A Perfect Day is well worth watching
Everyone seeks a day that is perfect, and as the delightful A Perfect Day reveals, you will only know what a true perfect day is once it has happened, and then its reward turns out to be a gratifying surprise.
It is the same with film, every once in a while, a film like A Perfect Day sneaks up on you and shows that big rewards lie in unexpected explorations.
Spanish filmmaker Fernando León De Aranoa has a wicked sense of the absurd that is grounded in a reality we all know; setting A Perfect Day in a world that is foreign to most people, that of an armed conflict zone, an improbable tourist destination that no-one will visit without trepidation.
De Aranoa succeeds in emphasising the absurd, the irrationality of the human being. For him the ﬁrst victim of any armed conﬂict is reason, and that’s why ‘’irrationality might be the most fearsome enemy in the ﬁlm.’’
We always look at the ruins of warfare without knowing what happens in the wasteland of humanity, where the lives of families are ruled by war, and have to survive in unforgiving circumstances.
Now, De Aranoa takes us into this intimate death zone, and allows us to discover its mystery through the eyes of a group of humanitarian aid workers in a mountain area a microcosm in which all the participants in the war are present: soldiers, civilians, blue helmets, journalists…
Here we have a small group of aid workers who try to remove a hefty corpse from a well it was thrown into, too contaminate the water, a primitive but effective form of biological warfare.
It seems to be a problem apparently easy to solve, but as De Aranoa shows, the ﬁrst victim of any armed conﬂict is common sense, which could be why their cars drive back and forth along the narrow mountain roads like a maze, searching for a way out that may not even exist.
The concept of the film is brilliant, allowing us to enter a world that is unfamiliar to us, and discovering a world that is no different from our own.
From the outset the hushed intensity unfolds at a gentle and relaxed pace, setting causality into motion that results in a high-risk human drama and adventure filled with intrigue, humour and wonder, uniting the vibrant characters and revealing their respective life stories and conflicted points of view.
In their own minds, each of the characters’ perfect day is unique, and they will do anything to make sure it doesn’t turn to dust.
It’s a great ensemble film, with a stellar cast bringing the characters to life with passion and heartiness.
Benicio del Toro is fantastic as the leader who maintains the balance of the group, or at least tries to.
Tim Robbins is a veteran logistics expert whose mischievousness results in some amusement, realising that a sense of humour and a certain level of wilderness is necessary to survive during wartime and can handle the craziness of war because he understands it well.
Mélanie Thierry is perfectly cast as the group’s water puriﬁcation expert and the group’s newest member whose innocence reveals a heartfelt truth.
Fedja Stukan brings elegance and dignity to the character of the group’s interpreter, a local worker who is also the group’s weakest link: his life there is worth less than the others. He’s a character who represents dignity, pride and the self-composure of the Balkan people during the tragic years of the war.
Olga Kurylenko is equally brilliant as the strong, sharp, and intelligent watchdog that needs to report on their situation.
Nine-years-old Sergi López will steal your heart as a young boy whose innocence, tenderness, and determination, forces him to face adulthood; his connection with the humanitarians is remarkable.
You will never forget when you discover the secret that shapes his destiny, it’s a heart-breaking scene that shows the harsh reality and impact of war on innocent bystanders, and how it destroys blameless lives.
It is indeed a powerful moment that you will never forget and shows how important it is to sometimes turn a blind eye.
What is really remarkable about A Perfect Day is how Aranoa reveals the extraordinary exposés that cause conflict and drama and how he skilfully uses music to heighten the emotional impact of the film; ‘’Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’’, sung by Marlene Dietrich has never been more effective as during the final act.
Aranoa’s A Perfect Day reveals a different but important face of war, and avoids recurring war scenarios and focuses the silent war, ‘’the one that goes beyond the fronts and peace accords, and endures in landmines and armed children, in the military checkpoints, in the simmering hate for one’s neighbours, and in a mother’s fear.’’
If you are looking for a character-driven narrative about people who try to make the most out of life to make the world a place for all to share peacefully, A Perfect Day, is well worth watching.
And, at the end of watching a very unique film, you will learn three important things that will save your life in a conflict zone: never waste rope and keep it handy, avoid dead cows in the middle of the road, and always follow a Granny, who takes her cattle grazing through a field of landmines, to stay on the right path.