A WHITE, WHITE DAY: Elegant in its simplicity, and starkly powerful.
Deeply thoughtful and sincere, Hylner Palmason’s second feature is the sort of film that’s destined to stand the test of time, even if it’s no commercial blockbuster, and was never intended to be one either.
Set in rural Iceland, A WHITE, WHITE DAY, is simply a sensitive take on central character, Policeman, Ingimunder’s struggle with grief, betrayal and rage. However, this is a man who, clearly, right from the start, has absolutely no idea how to express anything more intense than light affection, loyalty and duty towards his immediate family and friends, and a well-worn, stoic attitude to his life.
Taking comfort in what is a sweet and naturally compatible relationship with his grand-daughter, Salka, Ingimundur scrapes through life on autopilot after the death of his wife in a car accident. He also channels his frustrations into renovating a house for Salka and her family, but the cracks appear in this carefully constructed life when he discovers his wife was having an affair shortly before her death.
With a simple enough, and not unusual premise, what makes A WHITE, WHITE DAY, stand out is Ingimundur’s total denial of how he feels, which eventually drives him to a point where sanity deserts him, before he can finally vent his feelings, and find some resolution.
With some interesting photography and framing used to great effect, the back grounds seem as bleak and blocked off as Ingimundur. There’s a long montage of snapshots of the house, which spell not only the passage of time, but suggest the monotony of his existence. These and other still life studies and ‘empty’ cutaway shots, are apt and in keeping with the story and subject matter, and add to the grieving widower’s world. Yet the audience senses Ingimunder’s pain, buried, brooding and festering, under his placid, stoic exterior, a portrayal which is helped by a seamless, relentlessly earnest performance by well-known Icelandic Actor, Ingvar Sigurdsson.
A timely reminder to all of us, about the nature of grief and the fragile fallibility of human emotions, this is a film that will resonate strongly with everyone who has been in this position in some shape or form. Shocking when they hit boiling point, such a universal, great portrayal of emotions which all of us have to deal with but no one likes, is what will give A WHITE, WHITE DAY a long shelf life. Whether or not it is a great film for a Saturday night in with a take-away, depends on your taste. What is certain is that this is a well-crafted, intense film, that if chosen appropriately will satisfy at a deep level.
A WHITE, WHITE DAY is released in the UK 15th May 2020.