AT White, White Day, the title of the second feature film by Icelandic Hlynur Pálmason (after Winter Brothers, noticed in 2017) refers to a proverb from his country saying that when the whiteness of the sky and that of the snow-covered earth merge, the barrier separating the space of the dead and that of the living is momentarily abolished. Before we know what a dead woman and what life will be here, the film is actually a matter of meteorology and landscapes. A very beautiful elliptical sequence begins by showing us the passage of the seasons and the transformations of the nature around the house of the protagonist, Ingimundur, a police commissioner put on leave after the accidental death of his wife. Then, very quickly, this whiteness of the landscape will be traversed by a lot of darkness, until risking several times to be splashed of shards red blood.
Deadpan. In the dark of Ingimundur's mourning is added that of a possible thriller, whose first signs are precisely brought by the polars borrowed by his late wife in the library. Because she did not have time to return them before going to crash in the white scenery with her big black car, these books will betray her: on the cards of loan, the widower notices that still appears the name of the same man. He does not need more to be caught in a necrophilous jealousy that will push him to improvise detective, to confuse cravings for murder and work of mourning, plummeting lead and resilience. But Ingimundur is not alone, he often hosts his little girl of about ten years, beautiful child character, phlegmatic and malignant, counterbalance figure eminently alive in this cold, foggy, spectral world .
Like the protagonist, shared between a mischievous kid and an adulterous ghost, the film is torn between several registers and moods, which are all the price: its Scandinavian melancholy goes hand in hand with a humor dry-laugh, while that its violence seems constantly attenuated, even absorbed, by the landscape. In the same way, its extremely controlled form, framed by a precision sometimes icy, is ventilated by amazing digressions allowing to rush a little of naturalness and joy, such as these small horses entering unexpectedly in the house of Ingimundur.
Roulade. It is in these impromptu moments, emerging in the interstices of the frame, that the film offers its most beautiful scenes: a big stone thrown from a road which we follow, as if we were suddenly at Keaton or Kiarostami, the long roll , from slopes to cliffs, to the bottom of the sea; the grandfather telling his granddaughter a story of terror with worrying zeal as the child is more and more fascinated and terrified. Apparently useless to the story, these moments are on the contrary the most vital part. They relativize, comment, deviate the expected thriller to bring it to emotions more ambivalent, mysterious and endearing.
To say how much A White, White Day is a fake film noir, we could sum it up this way: to succeed in mourning, an Icelandic widower understands that he has only two solutions, to murder a rival or finally to cry. And if we can pretend to kill, to put ourselves on the verge of committing the act until experiencing relief without going so far as to accomplish it, crying does not premeditate itself more than the astonishment of a child, the curiosity of a horse or the ride of a rolling stone.
A White, White Day Hlynur Pálmason with Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson and Ida Mekkín Hlynsdóttir … 1 h 49.
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