Prove your humanity

For this year’s Scandinavian Film Festival, Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur or A White, White Day, was chosen to be the centre-piece. With films from different countries and different topics now being screen more frequently, watching merely mainstream or well-known films is not enough to satisfy a film lover like me.

Described by Screen International to be “visually arresting and emotionally rewarding. A perfectly controlled sense of place permeates every frame,” I went to the screening with high hopes and expectations.

Set in beautiful Iceland, the audience was drawn in by the scenic frames shown at the start of the movie. We follow a former policeman, Ingimundur (Ingvar E. Sigurdsson), as he builds a house for his daughter and granddaughter, Salka (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir). Recently widowed, he channels his grief and loneliness by dedicating a large portion of his day to the house and attending weekly counselling sessions.

Going through his late wife’s belongings, he comes to the realisation that his wife may have been cheating on him. Still loving her unconditionally, Ingimundur is driven by an invisible force of madness that kicks his cop instincts back to life.

It starts off small, with Imgimundur going through the belongings more thoroughly, then watching recorded videos and accessing confidential documents; one could only imagine how everything could go downhill from there.

I find this film interesting, especially as someone who likes to talk, as director Hlynur Palmason uses very little dialogue, focusing mainly on awkward moments shared by the characters and beautiful sceneries. The title refers to an Icelandic proverb that suggests on days that are so ‘white’, the ground will meet the sky and the dead are able to communicate to the living.

This film proved the proverb to be true when Ingimundur went into a crazy frenzy after a foggy day that painted Iceland in white. A White, White Day has a simple storyline with hidden secrets that allows the audience to decide what forces motivate each character.

Although the sceneries and cinematography used are beautifully, their repetitive use became irritating. The storyline is simple but at times it was also confusing. This may be because the film was presented in another language, which I am not familiar with. Several scenes were also cut rather abruptly.

Ingvar Sigurdsson did a fantastic job to showcase the emotional rollercoaster that his character was riding upon. Slowly and skillfully he took the audience through his joy, attachments, anger, pain and frustration. Getting torn into pieces by his emotions, it wouldn’t be long before he became a ticking time bomb, counting down to the explosion.

Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir acted cleverly in her role as an energetic young child. Spending most of her time outdoors and rebutting her grandfather with witty remarks, she is never afraid to stand her ground or protect her loved ones––even at knifepoint.

Although I am not likely to watch this film again, it is definitely worth a watch. The way the audience is captivated by the poetry and sceneries used at the beginning of the film is worth applauding. The film does, however, rely on the audience’s attention to detail, as it is almost two hours in length and to be honest, a little depressing. Some may not have the patience for the entire film, but those that do will find it to be a rather rewarding experience.

There are many films that do not showcase any message beyond artistic impressions, however, A White, White Day is not one of those films.

The Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival features 19 films from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland. From July 17th to August 7th, A White, White Day is showing at Cinema Paradiso (Northbridge) and Luna on SX (Fremantle).