#SheWatches A White, White Day

July 21, 2020


Last week Geoff and I saw the movie A White, White Day. From the opening scene the misty and icy atmosphere of the Icelandic landscape envelopes and stays with you. Onto the backdrop of the undistinguishing white vista we discover the Icelandic proverb When everything is white and there is no difference between the earth and the sky, it is possible to communicate with the departed. Edmund Finnis’ score of discordant music promotes the tone of impending drama. We watch a car being driven at a speed that is too fast through the seemingly impenetrable fog to eventually crash over an embankment. Added to this unsettling mood is the advance of time as depicted in numerous changing seasons which focus on a remotely located barn. The time-lapse camera shots reveal gradual additions and small changes to this shelter.

We are introduced to widowed police officer Ingimundur, stoically played by Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, and the loving relationship with his eight-year-old granddaughter Salka, beautifully and very naturally portrayed by Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir. Some of Ída’s unaffected behaviour because of a fishing trip might surprise an audience culturally sanitised, yet in its context it is tolerable.

Between being in the process of restoring the barn for his daughter, Ingimundur attends seemingly pointless sessions with a grief counsellor. Sorting through a box belonging to his late wife, Ingimundur suspects that she had an affair. He is now charged with a mission that turns his grief into an obsession to confront the lover. We feel his torment that wavers between the love for, and the despair over the action of, his departed spouse. His heart is set on a revenge that spins into a cat and mouse game. The overarching theme of unconditional love is expressed in the purity of his love for Salka and the more complex feelings towards his deceased partner.

This emotionally multifaceted drama is set against the scenery of a foggy landscape that adds to blurring its reality while explaining the opening Icelandic adage. Still sensing the arctic ambience as we were leaving the theatre the affection portrayed between Ingimundur and Salka left a lingering purity that seemed to match the landscape.

Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson’s excellent performance won him the 2019 TIFF Award For Best Performance. Hlynur Pálmason is the Director and Writer whose daughter plays Salka. The film was released in Australia in May 2020 and is currently screening at the Palace Cinemas.

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