PERFECT DAY || 2015, Spain || Drama || Directed by – Fernando Leon de Aranoa / Written by – Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Diego Farias (based on the novel Dejarse Llover by Paula Farias) / Produced by – Marisa Fernandez Armenteros, Luis Fernandez Lago, Eva Garrido, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Patricia de Muns, Javier Mendez, Jaume Roures / Music by – Arnau Bataller / Cinematography by – Alex Catalàn / Editing by – Nacho Ruiz Capillas / Production design by – Camilla-Valentine Isola / Starring – Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko, Mélanie Thierry, Fedja Stukan / Running time: 106 mins.
Set in the Balkans in 1995, as the Bosnian war was winding down, A Perfect Day by Fernando Leon de Aranoa follows a group of humanitarian workers as they look for rope to lift the corpse of a man out of a well and purify the water. The task proves to be much more difficult than originally expected, thanks to UN stubbornness and opposition from some of the region who seize the opportunity to make some money by selling clean water.
The film embraces the absurdism of war, with a series of moments of brilliant poetic satire, most of which happens around the main characters – a local woman walking home with cows ahead of her to guard her from hidden landmines, a man who refuses to give the men the ropes as it holds up his flag and putting it down might be a matter of life and death in times of war.
While it is admirable that A Perfect Day stays clear of preachy sanctification of the role of humanitarians, it is almost as disappointing to see it make use of such uninteresting driving plot points. Cinematographer Alex Catalan makes the most of the distinctive rocky Balkan landscape, where concealed danger could await anywhere. Furthermore, de Aranoa punctuates the film with some unusual tunes by rock and punk artists like The Ramones, The Velvet Underground and Marilyn Manson, which give it energy that manipulates the film’s contrasting wit and drama.
De Aranoa’s film is entertaining and its viewpoint is genuinely honest. There is no heroism in the traditional sense to be found in this film, which makes all the difference in a positive way. However, it is ultimately also all too easily forgettable due to its lowering of its own standards, even with its best intentions of exploring the human conditions within a portrayal that naturally stands as a show of all that is most inhumane. – 3/5