Day Night Day Night ***
Directed by Julia Loktev
Not Rated-Intense Themes
I finally got to see "Day Night Day Night," after weeks and weeks of putting it off. The driving force behind finally getting to it was the voice of the wisest man I know related to film who told me that he saw it months ago and that it was good. I kept this in my head every time IFC Center renewed it for another week. I must say that this is not a new story-and ever since 9/11 I have been exposed to three films on the subject-the other two being "The War Within" and "Paradise Now." But for the first time I actually found myself emotionally involved with the film, holding my breath through the last half, and not having any moral drilled down my throat. This is a quiet film of observation, and not one that has a sappy ending or not one with overly emotional supporting characters. Let me just say what the subject is-this is the story of a potential terrorist, who is planning on blowing up Times Square. Known only as "She," she goes to a hotel room awaiting instructions from a bunch of masked men. She does little things-clips her nails, takes a shower, eats pizza-until she is giving a bomb in a backpack and then told to go to Times Square where she has a CD player that is the trigger for the bomb on her back. It is during the second night where she is told to do this, and it is during the second night where she begins to reconsider.
Unlike "The War Within" and "Paradise Now," this film does not try to give you sympathy for the terrorist. Instead it just instructs you to watch her, with most of the emotion and her somewhat turn for the good depicted through her silence and through her facial expression. I admired that there was no music to try and sway your emotions, you just had to rely on the acting. Lusia Williams, who plays She, is acting in her first film, and by the looks of her it seems as if she's been in a hundred. I can see people criticizing it for "not having enough action." After all, the second half is basically her walking around Times Square. But there is actually strong character development going on through these scenes-there is a reason she walks into a candy shop and buys a candy apple, savouring every last bite. She is trying to recapture some kind of youth, as well as enjoying something she probably loved as a kid, right before her death. She is going back to an innocent time as she spends her money on ice cream and candy. It is a challenge for the audience to find sympathy for She because everything is done so subtly, but if you look hard enough you really know volumes about her. The finale is intense because you do not know how it will end-both "The War Within" and "Paradise Now" were obvious. And even though the ending is somewhat ambiguous, it was satisfying and made you think. But not drilling a moral down our throats, "Day Night Day Night" is a haunting success.