Visually arresting and equally enthralling, Scandinavian cinema is continuing to cement itself as a major player on the global circuit. Hlynur Palmason’s A White, White Day is an impressive addition to the growing Scandi film canon and has already garnered significant praise.
Set in a small Icelandic town, A White, White Day documents Ingimundur’s (Ingvar Sigurdsson) attempts to suppress his grief over the tragic loss of his beloved wife. Ingumundur toils away at turning a rundown shack flanked by mountains into a home for his daughter and her family. As the days and months pass, cracks begin to appear in his steely resolve as he begins to suspect his wife had an affair before she died, and we witness the slow unravelling of his sanity. As his actions become more erratic and disturbed, we are compulsively drawn to both sympathise and detest this burly protagonist.
The colour and soundscapes of the film heighten the sense of detachment between Ingimundur and his small community. Muted colours permeate the film’s sets and landscapes creating a bleakness, which seems to seep into the character’s demeanour. The bone-chilling score composed by Edmund Finnis serves to heighten the eeriness of the isolated landscape and the unsettling trajectory of Ingimundur.
Palmason’s handle on pacing is impeccable. He is not afraid to sit in the slower moments and let them draw out. We stay with Ingimundur even when the action has passed – we witness him breathe, take stock of the situation and then continue about his day. The merit of this is two-fold – we are privy to these private moments of reflection which negates some of his irrationality, and we are given space to step back from the immediate action and understand the consequences of his actions. In a film that deals with such a complicated character, this is much appreciated.
The opening sequence of A White, White Day is a well-crafted, hypnotising piece of cinematography. The abandoned house Ingimundur eventually renovates is depicted in identical shot after identical shot with only the weather changing. Although simple, the montage sets up the tone of the entire film and allows us to appreciate the ingenuity and beauty of Scandinavian film.
Aside from the striking cinematography, another major drawcard for A White, White Day is the dynamic relationship between Ingimundur and his young granddaughter portrayed by Ida Mekkin Hlynsdottir. Their relationship is one of intergenerational love and respect and acts as a counterbalance to the obsessive mediations of Ingimundur. Mekkin Hlynsdottir is a vibrant actor who does her character justice with incredible skill and flair for such a young talent.
A White, White Day is showing at the Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival presented by Palace (9th July – 7 August) across various cities in Australia. The festival showcases stand out films from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.
Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2019 Trailer: