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Bloody Mondays and Strawberry Pies

New documentary evocatively explores the upside of boredom

By Kevin Spurgaitis

Bloody Mondays and Strawberry Pies
Directed by Coco Schrijber, narrated by John Malkovich
(Bonanza Films)
www.bonanza.nl

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said those who completely entrench themselves against boredom also end up entrenching themselves against their true nature. Yet, we spend a major part of our lives keeping tedium at bay.

Bloody Mondays and Strawberry Pies evocatively explores boredom’s effects through the irrepressibly bored themselves: a Wall Street stockbroker whose entire day is marked by cold calls and hard sells; a painter who has been painting numbers for the last 42 years; and the infamous Brenda Spencer who, at 16, shot 11 people because she didn’t like Mondays. There’s also a 96-year-old whose daily life pales in comparison to the excitement she lived in her younger years as the White Mouse, a beautiful female spy in the Second World War. And in the middle of the Moroccan desert, a reclusive young man loses all meaning of time but finds a sense of irony in tourists coming to experience the solitude themselves — only to ruin it by behaving wildly.

But no one is quite as engrossing as a factory worker and musician named Lena, who despite her cheerless surroundings delights in playing acoustic guitar and reading literary classics. Assembling strawberry pies is one of Lena’s repetitive tasks in the factory. And yet, her outlook on life remains optimistic. “The world is everywhere; it has endless possibilities,” she proclaims. “But the world doesn’t give you things. It’s really up to me to spot opportunities and take them.”

Through all of these characters — and the narration of actor John Malkovich — the film gives voice to the inner bored somebody in all of us. But even though boredom has strong negative connotations, Bloody Mondays pleads passionately on its behalf. The film challenges audiences to embrace their monotonies, to use the time to consider life’s meaning and look at the world in more imaginative ways.

Though the narrative is experimental in nature and at times frustratingly incomplete, it somehow congeals to provide moments of intrigue and quiet contemplation. 

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