Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

A Perfect Day 2015

Directed by Fernando León de Aranoa

Crisp photography, boisterous tunes and a stacked deck of affable company make this funny, incisive comedy a memorable entry for the war genre. With Benicio Del Toro and Tim Robbins.

Spain In Bosnian, English, French and Spanish with English subtitles
105 minutes DCP
M (offensive language)

Producers

Fernando León de Aranoa
,
Jaume Roures

Screenplay

Fernando León de Aranoa
,
Diego Farias. Based on the novel Dejarse llover by Paula Farias

Photography

Alex Catalán

Editor

Nacho Ruiz Capillas

Production designer

César Macarrón

Costume designer

Fernando García

Music

Arnau Bataller

With

Benicio Del Toro (Mambrú)
,
Tim Robbins (B)
,
Olga Kurylenko (Katya)
,
Mélanie Thierry (Sophie)
,
Fedja Stukan (Damir)
,
Eldar Residovic (Nikola)
,
Sergi López (Goyo)

Festivals

Cannes (Directors’ Fortnight)
,
Melbourne
,
Vancouver
,
London 2015

Elsewhere

Commanded by an impressive roster of talent, including Benicio Del Toro, Olga Kurylenko and Tim Robbins, this ensemble tragicomedy strikes just the right balance of bracing levity and sobering truth. An ode to the efforts of aid workers during the Bosnian conflict of the 90s, A Perfect Day follows five of them as they attempt to hoist a sizable corpse out of a village water well before it poisons the local supply. Finding some rope for the job is just one of the many complications that ensue. As the team navigate villages of rabid dogs, trigger-happy children and landmines, the film’s title quickly finds its irony.

But director Fernando León de Aranoa chooses wonderful methods to subvert our expectations. Aided by a rambunctious soundtrack of punk and rock ‘n’ roll hits and dollops of wry dialogue, he evokes the shambling, nonchalant energy and humorous characterisation of a Richard Linklater film, all while admitting the uneasy suspense that underscores every moment. These guys crack jokes and trade digs with one another because sometimes that’s all there is to do. De Aranoa’s resistance to play into obvious, easy melodrama keeps this film vital and fresh, making the emotion coursing through its haunting closing moments feel all the more earned. — JF

“This wonderful little film, set ‘somewhere in the Balkans’ in 1996, is extremely witty and light on its feet, yet it manages to be thoughtful, even philosophical, in an absurdist way, about the roots of human conflict… The whole film is anti-sentimental yet heartfelt.” — Joe Morgenstern, Wall St Journal