A Perfect Day Review

A Perfect Day (2015) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

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Director: Fernando León de Aranoa
Writers: Fernando León de Aranoa,  Diego Farias (collaborating writer)
Stars: Benicio Del Toro,  Tim Robbins,  Olga Kurylenko

If I could use one word to describe A Perfect Day it would be unique. Director Fernando León de Aranoa has a real knack to take an ordinary task into an impossible situation. The movie tells the story of aid workers Mambru (Benicio del Toro), B (Tim Robbins), Damir (Fedja Stukan) and Sophie (Melanie Thierry) working in the Balkans at the tail end of the Balkan crisis in the mid nineties.

Mambru is the reluctant leader in the group who is head of security and is probably the most grounded one out of the four who is attempting to remove a dead body out of a well using a pulley system and a car to lift the rather obese corpse. As Mambru is close to removing the “dead weight” from the well the rope snaps and the body crashes back down to the water below leaving the aid worker in a situation. Without rope the dead man cannot be removed from the well.

B is played by Tim Robbins who is a bit of a wise cracker and Robbins has a real knack of playing a character like this who is a little unpredictable but likeable who on his way back to where Mambru is located and is accompanied by Sophie in their jeep. When suddenly the are stopped in their tracks with a dead cow in the middle of the road.

Sophie reckons they should just drive around the dead animal, but B reckons there is mines on either side of the dead cow and the whole thing is a set up. The reality is that B is actually just playing with Sophie here as the only “solution” to the situation is to drive right over the cow at top speed. In the end Sophie didn’t think the joke was funny at all. B certainly did.

The story now progresses into a more serious situation as Mambru  finds a lost local boy called Nikola played by young Eldar Residovic who has had his football stolen by the local bullies. Whilst Mambru tries to recover the ball one of the boys pulls a gun out on him and Mambru manages to scarper back into his car with the boy and heads to the nearby UN base. It is here we meet Mambru’s ex (Olga Kurylenko) who evaluates the situation in the Balkans.

As previously mentioned, the story is a simple tale but well executed by the writing and especially the acting from all the cast. Essentially A Perfect Day is a Bosnian road trip through the dusty countryside, letting you catch a glimpse and an idea of the situation in the Balkans at that time. What I felt was refreshing about the movie being set during a period of uncertainty and the very mention of War would assume we are in for a gore fest.

Not at all, the movie doesn’t shy away from the seriousness of War but does a different take on how the simpler things in life like fresh water from the wells in here areas are difficult to maintain and come by during the conflict. Rope is harder to find in the country when you need it to remove dead things from wells because the shop keeper requires the rope in case of any hangings. 

In terms of the the cast, I though the acting and the casting where well balanced as you never felt at any point that this was a Tim Robbins movie or a Benicio Del Toro movie, as I felt the supporting cast were also incredibly consistent throughout the movie.

Melanie Thierry and Olga Kurylenko do a great job  job, but the surprises and the local actors of Eldar Residovic and Fedja Stukan gave incredible performances. Having Benicio Del Toro and Tim Robbins is just the cherry on the top as the two aid workers.
Both of them shared some very sharp dialogue and bounced off each other and showed great chemistry on screen. The writing and dialogue was incredibly funny and quick witted. The characters development in the duration of the movie is so natural you barely notice it as it’s not forced and they grow on you within the first ten minutes.

I can’t review this movie without mentioning the soundtrack. Although unfamiliar with most of the filmmakers choices with some unusual rock songs throughout adding to the offbeat and edgy atmosphere to this movie. As to the cinematography from the Director of Photography Alex Catalan, which he uses in a simple way but contains some beautiful shots of the harsh countryside to the effect and manages to set the tone with the use of the natural light and colours to make you feel like you are there.
I have to say I enjoyed this movie a lot and although it is not a masterpiece, it has a subtle and unpredictable strength to it and I recommend anyone who hasn’t watched this yet to do so.

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