Day Night Day Night (2006)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - May 11, 2007 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - Germany, France, United States  |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Craig Butler

In Day Night Day Night director Julia Loktev adopts the hand-held realist style of the Dardenne brothers to follow a young woman (Luisa Williams) as she prepares to blow herself up as a suicide bomber in Times Square. This deliberately provocative premise may overshadow its creatively conceived construction. The dramatic tension comes less from standard thriller plot devices, but from trying to figure out who the character is and where she's heading. Williams, working with minimal dialogue, delivers a wonderfully expressive performance, using her eyes to convey emotion. Loktev appears to be more interested in provoking questions of how we look at a charged event when it is taken out of a specific political context. The director deliberately strips her protagonist of any ideological and personal motivation. Does this reveal her core humanity or ignore unavoidable accentuating circumstances? The young woman is sweet and girlish. Is that meant to be endearing or absurd? Perhaps this is merely a metaphoric psychological portrait of a person in extreme circumstances. Her manipulations by the male characters seem to imply sexual, rather than religious, politics. Then why touch such a strikingly situational nerve? The ending, echoing the possibility of faint hope favored by the Dardennes, is slightly unbelievable. And at times the film is too enigmatic to sustain itself. However, in challenging us to face the humanity at the core of an unspeakable act, Loktev provokes tough and unexpected thoughts with no clear answers.