Hlynur Palmason’s White White Day (2019) is a cold tale of how we cope with loss. While certain budget limitations are visible here and there, this Icelandic drama firmly connects the dots and provides enough reason to care.
Vengeance, when mixed with grief, can truly cause a catastrophe. Men, propelled by the urge to avenge, stop at nothing. This was often the axis for testosterone-filled westerns and thrillers.
Ingimundur (Ingvar Sigurdsson), the guy whom we follow over ninety minutes in “White, White Day”, is a far kin to sword-wielding or revolver-shooting heroes, romantically going all-in into a guns-blazing fever. Out in the severe nature of Iceland, Palmason’s protagonist orbits around two planets. One that is his granddaughter and second – a house he constructs for his own daughter.
One could call Ingimundur an agelast, for his face’s carved in sorrowful stone, and the man clearly weighs every word. Much in the vibe of “Drive”, Ingvar Sigurdsson nails the impression of an active volcano that’s ready to burst into flames when circumstances push him to the edge. He’s effortlessly charismatic.
His character’s edge is right there, seen at the moment when Ingimundur finds out that his recently deceased wife was a cheater. In a split of a second, his life is shattered, all of her recollections become tainted, while the flame of vengeance rises. But it’s not “Kill Bill” and Palmason steadily leads his leading character to the point of losing it. It’s a cautious type of anger, but just as violent in design.
That’s precisely where Palmason’s “White, White Day” works best. When Sigurdsson is given artistic freedom, he glues the audience to the screen, and although the investigation’s not in the film’s centre, this little piece of drama easily manages to draw from classical whodunnits. As we learn more about Ingimundur, it becomes clear that finding the man who broke his perfect image is a cathartic process of cherishing what’s now and learning to leave the past in the past.
“A White, White Day” – An Icelandic way of doing comedy
Moreover, Hlynur Palmason does have the rare gift for conjuring up bizarre moments. In one of the scenes, Ingimundur puts his former coworkers behind bars after a fist fight, only to commit a heavy crime which will obviously have heavy repercussions. But that’s served in a sweet and sour sauce, leaving a peculiar kind of satisfaction.
That’s also contrary to the disappointing debut of Palmason called “The Winter Brothers”. Going offbeat in “White, White Day” never means going overboard. As the story unravels, Palmason steers away from a tale of dealing with grief to a noir, gritty piece, only to be back where it was again. The changes of mood are smooth and give the Icelandic director a chance to precisely dose both humor and drama.
“White, White Day” pays tribute to a man-led drama about losing someone close and clinging to the memories of that person at all costs – even if they hurt as some previously unknown truth’s revealed. Palmason engages the audience and submerges it in what Icelanders do best- moving the viewers by absurdity, crushing them with raw emotions, and letting them freeze in awe at fantastically picturesque nature in the background.
White, White Day (2019)
Dir. Hlynur Palmason
Hate Grade: 3/10