DIRECTED BY: Hlynur Palmason
STARRING: Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson, Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir, Hilmir Snær Guðnason, Sara Dögg Ásgeirsdóttir, Björn Ingi Hilmarsson, Elma Stefania Agustsdottir, Haraldur Stefansson, Laufey Elíasdóttir, Sigurður Sigurjónsson, Arnmundur Ernst Björnsson, Sverrir Þór Sverrisson and Þór Tulinius
Ingimundur is recently bereaved. On compassionate leave from the police force, he keeps himself busy by searching through boxes of old photos and home videos. Doing so leads him to suspect that his late wife was having an affair with a local man. With his anger at boiling point and his police intuition in full flow, Ingimundur sets out across a rugged landscape to discover the truth in a quest that will inevitably endanger himself and his loved ones.
A White, White Day is an Icelandic drama written and directed by Hlynur Palmason, following up on his 2017 directorial feature debut Winter Brothers. The film focuses on Ingimundur, a police officer whose given compassionate leave for the recent death of his wife. When keeping himself busy by building/renovating the family house, he also babysits his eight-year-old granddaughter Salka. When going through a box of old photos and videos in which he comes across one specific photo and videotape which leads him to discover that his late wife was having an affair with someone that he knows. Ingimundur buries his grief deep within as his anger begins to take over as he begins to follow the steps of the man who had the affair with his wife and his idea of vengeance and looking to uncover the truth leads him to lashing out against those he loves and endangering the lives of others.
The film is deliberately paced by Hlynur Palmason as, by definition, a slow-burn in how we follow Ingimundur bottles up his emotions and distances himself by letting them out to his family, friends and even his psychiatrist, that once we finds evidence of his wife committed adultery, he has one thing on his mind that leads him to aggressively pursue the one question on his mind…why? The film opens with a long, continuous shot of a car driving in the middle of a treacherous fog that leads the driver to mistiming a corner and going through the barrier and off the cliff, plunging into the sea. That is then followed by a long sequence at the house Imgimundur is fixing up so that his daughter and granddaughter, showing the passage of time with the change of seasons with a wide shot. It’s very methodical in how Palmason structures the narrative, particularly with how Edmund Finnis’ score is orchestrated. While something as simple as Ingimundur and Salka taking a trip out the boat appears normal, there’s just something about Finnis’ score that makes you feel that something disturbing is coming and, low and below, the film eventually does. Ingimundur doesn’t appear to have properly grieved for the loss of his wife, his partner and soulmate, and when questioned by his physiatrist on that, he proceeds to absolutely wreck the room and all the objects contained within it. While he buries himself into renovating the house, he also clings to the memory of what he lost, from photographs to even a sex tape. Though it’s when he starts to do stuff that doesn’t sit right with the viewer, particularly with his bedtime story to Salka that becomes gruesome, that’s when you feel that he’s a time-bomb waiting to go off.
Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson gives a very commanding performance as Ingimundur, the way he portrays emotions through his facial expressions just demands your attention. Young Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir also gives a very good performance granddaughter Salka and it’s whenever these two share the screen together that the film is at its strongest. However, it’s the arc with Ingimundur and the obsession that he has with the man that had an affair with his wife that feels undercooked in its execution. The film builds to their inevitable encounter and while Ingimundur might feel cleansed of his emotions by the films end, I did find that conclusion of the arc rather anti-climatic for me personally.
There is moments within A White, White Day that are to be admired and while Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson gives a commanding performance, the payoff in the final third for me felt anti-climatic.