A White, White Day (3 stars)

A White, White Day

Unusual twist on the revenge thriller from Icelandic director Hlynur Palmason, starring Ingvar Sigurdsson

Rural Iceland has played host to some appealing oddness in recent years and Hlynur Palmason has plenty to offer himself in his second feature, which pairs the tension and eruptions of a slow-burn revenge thriller with more opaque interludes, which are open to interpretation. Following a recently widowed police officer as he cares for his granddaughter and delves damagingly into his dead wife's past, at the very least, it gifts the wonderful Ingvar Sigurdsson (Of Horses and Men) a corker of a role.

A White, White Day begins with a fatal car accident, chilling in its suddenness and severity, caused when a sharp bend is masked by fog. Unfolding in the long shadow of the driver's passing, it finds her devastated husband Ingimundur (Sigurdsson) unable to communicate his sorrow, not least to a psychiatrist whose questions he finds irritating. Instead, he throws himself into constructing a house virtually single-handedly, and tending to 8-year-old Salka (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir), before a box of his wife's personal effects turns his attention to events preceding her death.

It's an intriguing scenario, expertly set into motion, while indulgences enhance the character of the piece: time-lapse photography marks the progress, or otherwise, of Ingimundur's housebuilding project; a rock is followed at length down a hillside to its watery resting place; we're drawn eerily into an episode of demented children's television. Yet Palmason promises things he doesn't deliver on and his film has a rather fragmented feel, never cultivating much in the way of momentum or atmosphere.

With a taciturn protagonist at its core, it's all very subdued and no more than faintly strange until it suddenly isn't, as Ingimundur loses his rag in enjoyably bizarre and eventually deeply disturbing fashion. Veering this way and that, A White, White Day is hard to get a handle on but Sigurdsson keeps you hooked, the dramatic final act means it exits on a high, while there are enough flourishes throughout to make future films from Palmason a promising prospect indeed.

Available to watch on demand from Fri 3 Jul.

A White, White Day

  • 3 stars
  • 2019
  • 1h 49min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Hlynur Palmason
  • Cast: Ingvar Sigurdsson, Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir, Hilmir Snær Guðnason

An Icelandic police officer's wife dies but instead of focusing on grieving her, he gets obsessed with taking revenge on the man his wife cheated on him with.