11 November 2019 | DjMethod
A reconciliation of purity and humanity through memory and grief
"For some reason, she was always enough for me."
Hvíter Hvíter Dager, Iceland's Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film this year, is a quiet, mature look at grief and memory. It is about a man who carries within him a love so pure, he struggles to understand anything else. It is about refusing to let go of the version of someone you want to hold onto forever.
The narrative slowly unravels like a novel as themes are explored through nuance and metaphor. The delicate dealing with love lost recalls Lee Chang-dong's Secret Sunshine and Céline Sciamma's Portrait de La Jeune Fille en Feu, regarding the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The cinematography, shot in a noticeably textured 35mm, is peculiar in the way it involves the setting and keeps us a certain physical distance from the characters. I think Michael Haneke would be proud of this film.
The central character Ingimunder's relationship with his granddaughter Salka serves the film in predictable but endearing ways. Strong child acting is often taken for granted, but Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir's performance is far from typical. It is also a testament to both fine direction (Hlynur Palmason) and strong casting because the two leads are almost irreplaceable and truly contribute to make the film something special.
A White, White Day is enriched by its simplicity and singularity as it takes on heavy themes. The characters are real, the story is thoughtfully restrained, and the ending is remarkable. One of the more memorable films of the year.