Scandinavian Film Fest 2019: A white, White day is as bleak as it is bright
A White White Day opens up with the Icelandic Proverb: '“The dead can still talk to those who are still living on certain days when the white of the sky matches the white on the ground”. A haunting introduction into Acclaimed Winter Brother’s director, Hlynur Palmason’s, newest feature film, A White, White Day. The eerie, yet poetic opening is followed by a mysterious arial view of an unknown car speeding through an Icelandic highway. A suspenseful and cinematically beautiful scene that demands control of viewers, the car ultimately steers off the road, tumbling into the unknown white sky that seems to be an extremely rural Icelandic town.
What is extraordinary about A white, white day, is rather than focusing on being a character drama and focusing on it’s actors to guide it through, it lets the incomparable scandinavian scenery do all of the work. One of our earlier scenes is a several-minutes long jump cut of a farm house, very slowly being renovated. We are introduced to the green, the blue, the grey tones that also feature in this very monotone film that definitely does well from it’s “white” title. However, when the small but excellent cast are finally introduced, we see all sorts of colour’s represented in each of these individual personalities.
Centring on policeman, Ingimundur (Ingar Eggert Sigurosson), we learn of his wife’s recent death. In denial over his mental state and unable to properly process grief, we follow Ingimundur’s slow journey into collapse as he takes things too far in a quest for the truth. His granddaughter Salka provides the light in this otherwise dark film. A brilliant role for the young actress, we are painted with this delightfully intelligent young character who is far tougher than she looks. A particular crowd-favourite scene was when Salka and her granddad visit his police station. We see the blue-eyed, blonde, small girl violently bludgeon a fish to death on a table in front of a group of bewildered policemen. I like to think of the fish as our hearts breaking as A White, White Day progresses into what it really is; a sad film about a man losing his wife.
The pacing is slow, which is usual for Palmason’s work and similar arthouse european films. But the stunning visuals and Eggert Sigurosson’s haunting performance keeps this drama going. A slight let-down from the film’s poster, in which we see a very dramatic image of Ingimundur carrying a bloodied Salka. A White, White day never truly reaches the fiery conclusion we think we are promised from a film we assume is a slightly gory and violent tale. Instead, it concludes with a personal triumph from our main man, changing the film from it’s sometimes shocking and violent moments, to a sad tale of grief and lost love.
Although somewhat too adventurous at times, it’s an excellent, thought-provoking film about love and loss that shares a humane journey in an extremely captivating and poetic way. With Sigurosson’s fantastic turn as Ingimundur, and Palmason proving himself to indeed be a new one to watch, A white, White day should definitely be on your list of films to see.
Catch it during the Scandinavian film festival from its first screening which is the 24th July!