Fresh off the festival circuit, Hlynur Pálmason’s A White, White Day rapturously yet bleakly explores familiar themes of grief and loss. Pálmason’s second feature offers a clinical, appropriately distanced character study, while maintaining a coherent sense of the character’s interiority.
A White, White Day follows Ingimundur (Ingvar Sigurdsson) as he mourns and investigates the sudden passing of his wife. Ingimundur’s investigation is characterized visually by his obsessive viewing of home videos–imagery that recalls Michael Haneke’s Caché (2005), a likely aesthetic referent for this film. As his investigation continues, he becomes obsessed with the idea that his wife committed adultery, resulting in a descent of madness and violence.
While Haneke’s films often use clinical distance to numb the audience into complacency, the stylistic logic of A White, White Day is less clear. Indeed, the film sometimes suffers from extreme distanciation, with frequent shots of the beautiful Icelandic landscape sometimes obscuring and interfering with the flow of the film’s narrative.
Buoyed by an impressive and expressive performance by Sigurdsson, A White, White Day nonetheless demonstrates Pálmason’s strength as a filmmaker; particularly in striking a delicate, morose tone that complements the film’s distanciation. While at times it is a tad challenging viewing experience, A White, White Day rewards its patient viewers with strong performances and an enthralling narrative.
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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile