This bizarre and sometimes scary film from Iceland has a way of keeping you off balance and on the edge of your seat. It is a psychological drama-thriller involving startling aesthetic choices from its writer-director Hlynur Palmason, switching up in its third act from subtlety to unsubtlety, but with stunning, deliberate force. For most of the time, the film has been a slow burner, and yet the final 20 minutes or so reveal that this slow burning has merely been that of the lit fuse, fizzling and crackling its way towards the bomb.
Like The Lord of the Rings, this film ends a number of times, and there was more than one moment when I was (wrongly) certain that the final credits were about to roll. Yet it never ceases to exert a grip, especially with its enigmatic opening sequence showing a car driven at speed across a hazy landscape: we are invited to suspect a clever twist … and then un-suspect it.
Ingvar Sigurðsson gives an excellent performance as Ingimundur, a middle-aged cop on compassionate leave because of his wife’s recent death. He busies himself with doing up a family smallholding and babysitting his beloved eight-year-old granddaughter. Yet we can see in all the strange, tense, compressed details of his life that he is suppressing anguish.
Then, going through an old boxful of photos, videos and papers (and with a copper’s sixth sense for something amiss) Ingimundur discovers what he suspects is evidence that his late wife was having an affair with a guy he now plays football with. From that moment, his anger begins to spiral upwards. The title is taken from what is evidently an old proverb: “On such days when everything is white and there is no longer any difference between the Earth and the sky, then the dead can talk to us.” The midnight sun of death shines a cold, clear light upon the living.
• A White, White Day is available on digital platforms from 3 July.
Source: The Guardian