A Perfect Day
Accomplished director, producer and screenwriter Fernando León de Aranoa is well known for his Spanish language films, which discuss recent social issues with a splash of comedy. Mondays in the Sun dealt with unemployment in the north of Spain, while Barrio took us to the world of suburban child gangs. A forgotten village in the corner of southeast Europe, labelled as “somewhere in the Balkans”, is the setting for the director’s latest English language effort at combining entertainment with social realism, resulting in an interesting take on the war-comedy genre.
It is 1995, and the corpse of an enormously fat man is discovered floating at the bottom of a well, contaminating the only source of water for the war-torn community. Over the course of 24 hours the film’s motley crew of aid workers must remove it, facing an assortment of obstacles along the way, including dead cows rigged as road bombs, distracting relationship issues, and uncaring UN bureaucracy.
The Aid Across Borders team is made of up an interesting assortment of characters including Benicio del Toro’s sly Mambrú, Tim Robbins’ unstable veteran B, and passionate newcomer Sophie, played by Mélanie Thierry. There are also notable performances from Olga Kurylenko and Fedja Stukan. The group struggles to complete their task, which increasingly becomes a metaphor for the difficult situations imposed by conflict, where actions with the best intentions are constantly hindered by chaos, violence and red tape. A lighthearted tone and frequent gags, some of which fall flat, prevent the film from feeling too heavy overall. The storyline also pleasingly includes issues and subplots from the perspectives of locals and refugees, creating an interesting mix of Western outsider and native insider viewpoints not found in many Hollywood films of a similar genre.
However, the mismatched group at the centre of the story never quite manages to develop a memorable chemistry or comic back-and-forth, and certain romantic and familial subplots tip some scenes into the dangerous realm of sentimentality. A Perfect Day is a steady and original effort, but lacks the spark of genius to bring it alongside such films as M*A*S*H and The Search.
A Perfect Day is released nationwide on 22nd January 2016.
Watch the trailer for A Perfect Day here: