Streaming as part of EDFILMFEST AT HOME brought to you by EIFF and Curzon Home Cinema (CHC)
“When everything is white, and you can no longer see the difference between the earth and the sky, the dead can talk to us who are still living”
Hlynur Palmason opens A White, White Day with that quote on-screen. I know not from where it comes, but it is an apt scene-setter for what follows. A car drives through this expanse of white, the only thing visible the road on which it makes its careful progress – careful, that is, until it does not take a bend, instead crashing through the barrier and disappearing from sight.
Driver, and victim of this fatal crash, is the wife of local Police Chief Ingimundur (Ingvar Sigurðsson). Caught in a permanent sense of mourning, a man alone with his feelings, even though he is surrounded by family, in particular his young granddaughter Salka (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir), Ingimundur spends his time building a house for Salka and her mother.
The story is centred on two relationships: his unconditional love for Salka and his love for his late wife, whom he comes to realise had been having an affair. Unable to bring himself to confide in anyone, his grief and despair finally take him completely when, while going through a box of her belongings, he finds in a camcorder footage of her with her lover. The doubts that had plagued him have now become fact, and his memories of her altered for ever.
The question now is whether his determination to seek revenge on her lover, not to mention taking out his anger and hurt on anyone in his path, will be greater motivation than his desire to provide for his daughter and granddaughter. Palmason has created a tale of grief, loss and memory; the difficulties of dealing with a sudden, unexpected loss and the even greater difficulty when we find that the subject of the memories was not as well known to us as we thought.
Sigurdsson gives a mesmerising performance, he draws us in until we share both his grief and his anger, despair for him and hope for him too. Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir captivates, too. A calm oasis amid her grandfather’s turmoil, she avoids any notion of irritating precosiousness while revealing a quiet strength of character. I will remember this one for a long time to come.
Just one thing did not sit quite right – repeated and lengthy views of a childrens’ TV show that – unless I’m missing something here – has nothing to do with the plot and quickly became an irritating distraction. Other than that, perfect.
Set for digital release on 3rd July.