A White, White Day (2019)

A White, White Day is an Icelandic drama realized in the subgenre of art film “slow cinema” signed by the talented filmmaker Hilmunar Palmason. In his script, he deals with a man who refuses to accept and admit his emotions, until they inevitably start to flow from him. The film was the country’s candidate for the Oscars, but due to fierce competition, it failed to be shortlisted.

The plot of the film is set in a remote Icelandic settlement and the story opens with a long uninterrupted shot in which we see a car turning off the road into an abyss. It turns out that the wife of police chief Ingimundur, who is on leave and visiting a psychotherapist, died in that accident. He finds solace in building a house that he plans to give to his daughter’s family, as well as in taking care of his granddaughter Salka. The plot arises when he finds his wife’s things that suggest to him that she had an affair with one of the locals…

For our protagonists, physical work, occasional fishing, recreational football and caring for a grandchild divert thoughts from misfortune and loss. In his daily routine, he tries to find comfort and peace, and at first we seem to be doing well, until the discovery of the video triggers an avalanche of emotions that he has successfully hidden until then. Its seemingly solid façade melts over time until sadness and resentment remain clearly visible, as does the rage that has now been given to the object to which it can be directed.

While in the first part Ingimundur distracts by starting to work at home, in the second part he is overwhelmed by suspicion about which he refuses to talk openly. While anger, pain and frustration tear him apart from the inside, he behaves normally, as if he is not a bomb ready to explode. As the suspicion grows, the happiness he feels while spending time with his grandson disappears and he begins to attack his family, psychotherapist and colleagues. In the final part, which has elements of a thriller, his initial stoicism becomes useless rage.

A White, White Day is a true example of a slow, contemplative film that emphasizes long shots and is characterized by a minimalist, observant style with little action. The whole film changes static shots dominated by the harsh Icelandic climate, while we watch individual shots under different circumstances such as the change of seasons and the change of weather conditions. Before watching, I assumed that the pace would be slower, but I didn’t expect it to be that slow. The fact is that the action is not so much as to be justified by being placed in a feature film and everything we watch is quite stretched, with the addition of scenes or shots that serve no purpose (or are a metaphor for something I failed to conclude).

I believe that the author wanted to show us how the concept of time is lost when a person mourns, but I must admit that it all seems relatively tedious. What I liked in this film are first of all the ideas and very nice shots, and then the fact that the shop is located in inhospitable Icelandic areas where people are even more closed. The lead actor is, as far as I understand, the superstar of the cinematography of this country and in this film he justifies that status. His performance is very layered, it is evident that the man skillfully handles his emotions and the fact is that his participation raises the whole project one step higher.

A White, White Day is an Icelandic art-house drama that tells a seemingly simple story and experiments with cinematography and tempo – slow cinema enriched with simplicity as well as precise nuances of grief and sadness.

my final grade: 7/10

Source: The Filmske Recenzije by filmskerecenzije.com.

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