A Perfect Day
dir Fernando Leon de Aranoa
scr Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Diego Farias
prd Fernando Leon de Aranoa, Jaume Roures
with Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko, Melanie Thierry, Fedja Stukan, Eldar Residovic, Sergi Lopez, Nenad Vukelic, Morten Suurballe, Ben Temple, Frank Feys, Antonio Franic
release Sp 28.Aug.15, US 15.Jan.16
15/Spain 1h46
A Perfect Day
Let it rain: Residovic and Del Toro

robbins thierry kurylenko
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
A Perfect Day With a snappy, irreverent vibe, this M.A.S.H.-style black comedy covers one day for a group of humanitarian workers in the Balkans during the war in 1995. It's a day packed with comedy, drama and suspense, and a sharp exploration of the realities of life during wartime. So the film is entertaining even if it rarely hits a resonant note.

With only a frayed rope, aid worker Mambru (Del Toro) and his translater-colleague Damir (Stukan) are unable to get a body out of a well so they can restore the clean water supply. Then jaded American B (Robbins) arrives with idealistic French newbie Sophie (Thierry), followed by a sexy Russian worker Katya (Kurylenko) who has a tense past with Mambru. Over the course of this frustrating day, they pick up young orphaned Nikola (Residovic) and face a series of obstacles and unstable situations that could easily spiral violently out of control.

The film captures the gallows humour these workers require to deal with the constant threat of death, plus the unexpected roadblocks, disinterested military officers and inane regulations, not to mention village kids carrying guns. The film takes the same sarcastic/ironic approach to authority as Robbins' recent TV series The Brink, and offers the actor another blustering character who enjoyably chomps on the scenery.

All of the acting is loose and relaxed, playing with the dark absurdity of such a difficult situation while keeping every scene grounded in authenticity. The entire cast is solid, creating entertaining characters who hold the interest through a series of offbeat situations, but it's never much of a stretch for any of them, because the characters never reveal much about themselves. And the presence of a child and Thierry's super-sensitive rookie make the emotional notes a bit easy.

Still, the film is beautifully shot in Spain to recreate a sense of the isolated chaos of the Balkans. Filmmaker de Aranoa realistically depicts the horrors of a warzone, with senseless death and nightmarishly unwinnable situations that require elliptical thinking. This is balanced with both brittle comedy and some vaguely soapy subplots involving these smart, seasoned experts who genuinely care about the people caught in the crossfire. But aside from a knowing comment on the insanity of these kinds of situations, the film doesn't say much.

cert 15 themes, language, grisliness 12.Jan.15

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