The Scandinavian Film Festival is back to warm Perth’s winter nights. Making its Australian premiere as the centrepiece of the festival is Icelandic film, A White, White Day (Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur).
A White, White Day is the latest offering from Icelandic director Hlynur Palmason about an ex-cop turned family man who discovers his wife was having an affair prior to her death. Now he must decide whether to pursue the person she was having an affair with, or to continue trying to maintain his new lifestyle for the sake of his family.
Palmason’s second feature film is carried brilliantly by its two main cast members. Ingvar Sigurdsson plays stony widower Ingimundur to perfection. Busying himself by building his daughter a new home, his one joy in life is spending time with his young, curious granddaughter Salka. Sigurdsson plays Ingimundur with an emphasis on physicality, speaking volumes with his facial expressions and body language, negating the need for words.
This is contrasted by young Salka, played by Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir, who fills the silence with comfortable chatter and asks her grandfather tough questions. The chemistry between the two is what holds this film together, and their dynamic is incredibly believable. There’s an easiness between them, and it’s the only time we really see any glimpse of affection from Ingimundur.
Like most Icelandic films, the harsh, natural environment is treated as its own character, with time lapses used to show the unpredictable weather cycles and the danger lurking just behind the guard rails.
A lot of tension is built by placing some distance between Ingimundur and what’s happening around him. When he’s alone, director Pálmason chooses to film from afar, giving the film a voyeuristic feel.
A White, White Day is an unpredictable tale. It’s hard and unforgiving, like the environment the movie is set against. It’s softened only slightly by the presence of family, and the innocence of youth yet to experience the darkness in the world.
Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2019 screens in Perth from 17 July-7 August.
Images courtesy of Palace Films and Volvo Scandinavian Film Festival 2019.