10 December 2006 | jalawa-2
A beautiful vision of how chance encounters can have unexpected consequences
Jay Anania's new film, "Day on Fire," is a haunting story about a Palestinian journalist and a Jewish model who meet by accident in New York, and whose lives become inextricably, and shockingly, intertwined. The remarkable cast is led by the always-excellent Martin Donovan, playing an enigmatic man, handsome, solitary, and fastidious, who's on a kind of quest through the streets of the city that will bring him into contact with one of these women, in a way one could never predict. Carmen Chaplin (granddaughter of that other Chaplin), gives an exquisite performance of a woman who is carrying on her shoulders a personal grief, as well as the weight of her people's struggles, as she pursues her own search for understanding. And Alyssa Sutherland, an actress I hadn't seen before, plays the model with great dignity and unusual intelligence. The struggles that are playing out on the other side of the world are reflected here, both in the sadness that darkens their lives, and in the hope their shared emotions gives rise to. A lovely performance by Olympia Dukakis, and a cameo by the wonderful Richard Bright (The Godfather, among many others), playing a homeless man, and filmed shortly before his untimely death, are worth the price of admission. A gorgeous series of duets by the singer Judy Kuhn and the pianist John Medeski provide a kind of poetic counterpoint to the main story. The cinematography, by Kathryn Westergaard, shooting in hi-definition video, is beautiful, unsurprising for this filmmaker who always makes us look at the world through fresh eyes. A movie to see again and again.