Director: Hlynur Pálmason
Starring: Ingvar Sigurdsson, Ida Mekkin Hlynsdottir, Sara Dogg Asgeirsdottir. Iceland. 1h 49m
It doesn’t take long to get a good grasp of the top talent in Iceland, not only does a majority of the movies released there really hit a nerve and the industry continues to release one banger after the next, but with such a tiny population you’re going to see a lot of repeat offenders and not surprisingly a lot of the more popular faces have buckets of incredible talent and some of those come together in this study of grief.
Life is resuming after the tragic death of Ingimundur wife, a role acted by Asgeirsdottir and listed as “Ingimundurs Wife ” in the credits, this character is never named for poetic reasons? Ingimundur (Sigurdsson) is attempting to get on and give his daughter the best life but the nagging feeling that his wife might have been having an affair before her terrible car crash, just won’t let him get any peace.
Much like Samuel Maoz’s comedic lesson in grief, Foxtrot (2017) there’s a fascination with watching people pick up the pieces and attempt to turn their lives back to some normality, but the stages of grief have to be challenged and overcome.
“Have you ever cheated on your wife?”
The film is as straightforward as any grief stricken man can think, there’s moments where Ingimundur attempts to distract himself with work on the house, he plunges into deep emotional sessions with a shrink which go into surreal trips as he searches for signs in the past trying to seek the truth, but the art comes into the film when (director) amps up many minutes of long shots and a bleak overwhelming scene features a series of shorts depicting the leftover pieces from the wreckage, a jar of water from the pool the car landed in, pieces of metal from the car, the rock potentially responsible for hitting the car. It’s played out a few times in the movie but there are frequent rock slides and huge stones rolling down the beautiful hills in Iceland, skipping across roads and potentially hitting the odd car.
The momentum shifts as Ingimundur begins to piece together a dark puzzle and his anger and jealousy takes him to places that even he didn’t realize he could go to, but he’s met with an equally violent confronting force leading the dreamlike movie into a battle of survival. In one poignant scene where Ingimundur is running for his life, he has to leg it through a dark tunnel to save his life, is this a sign that there is finally an end to his grief, is the light at the end all that fulfilling?
Sometimes a little bizarre, always breaking rules, this movie still strangely relaxes and keeps you on the edge of your seat. If you ever wanted to know how a harrowing movie can also be entertaining then tune in but be prepared for an erotically charged and rampant undercurrent. If Foxtrot is the inhale of breath that a loved one takes on hearing someone close has passed, then A white white day is the exhale.
Related: Jar City (2006), Winter Brothers (2017), A Painter (2013), A Zed and Two Nought (1985), Foxtrot (2017)
Spotlight: Hlynur Pálmason