Blu-ray Review: Stormy Monday

STUDIO: Arrow Video/MVD | DIRECTOR: Mike Figgis | CAST: Sean Bean, Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones, Sting
RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2017 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $25.95
BONUSES: commentary, video appreciate by critic Neil Young, “then and now” tour of locations, trailer
SPECS: NR | 93 min. | Crime drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | Stereo 2.0 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Before the category of “neo-noir cinema” got its own section in video stores in the Nineties and was liberally bestowed on any one of a zillion thrillers that featured murder, deception and a femme fatale (see Red Rock West, Things To Do in Denver When You’re Dead, U Turn, The Last Seduction, Sleeping with the Enemy, Romeo is Bleeding, etc., etc,), 1988’s Stormy Monday, writer/director Mike Figgis’s debut feature, embodied the truest aspects of the genre. Along with offering all the broad qualifications on the noir style sheet (shadowy visuals, dangerous dame, criminal goings-on), it also adheres to noir’s thematic requirements (cynical attitudes, unsure destinies, doomed love, ill-fated actions).

Melanie Griffith and Sean Bean in Stormy Monday

Set in Newcastle, England in the late Eighties—the Reagan/Thatcher era of American/British economic exchange and “synergy”—Stormy Monday unspools during the city’s celebratory “America Week,” wherein a threatening U.S. businessman Frank Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones, Captain America) seeks to drop anchor in town by strong-arming shady jazz club owner Finney (Sting) to sell him his joint and vacate. In rebuffing Cosmo, Finney receives some assistance from his newest employee, low-key idler Brendan (Sean Bean, Pixels), who’s freshly involved in a romance with American waitress Kate (Melanie Griffith, Something Wild), a sometimes-escort who occasionally works for Cosmo. The paths of the four characters intersect over two days, coming together in a finale that’s nearly as surprising as it is predestined.

Quiet, atmospheric and populated with a quartet of well-drawn (and well-acted!) characters, Stormy Monday also benefits from Figgis’s slinky jazz score, the first of many he composed for his subsequent films. Though Figgis’s filmmaking would grow increasingly experimental–both technologically and narratively–in later years (Time Code or The Loss of Sexual Innocence, anyone?), Stormy Monday remains one of Figgis’s most effective and engaging films, a real from-the-heart effort that those unfamiliar with the filmmaker’s work will dig and those in the know might enjoy seeing again.

Arrow’s Blu-ray edition contains a dry but informative commentary by Figgis (moderated by critic Damon Wise), a too-long appreciation and then-and-now tour of the Newcastle locations by critic Neil Young, and a short, praise-filled essay by critic Mark Cunliffe.

Buy or Rent Stormy Monday

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.