A Perfect Day
Director: Fernando León de Aranoa
Writer: Fernando León de Aranoa, Diego Farias
Based on: Paula Farias’ novel Dejarse llover
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko, Mélanie Thierry, Fedja Stukan, Eldar Residovic
Seen on: 17.11.2015
Mambrú (Benicio Del Toro) and B (Tim Robbins) are aid workers who have been in the Balkans for a while now, assisted by their translator Damir (Fedja Stukan). Sophie (Mélanie Thierry) recently joined them, but hasn’t been doing things for long. Their job is to give humanitarian aid in a region still very much riddled by war. On this particular day this means trying to get a dead body out of a well. But that proves to be difficult, and it’s not made easier by the fact that Mambrú has to pick up an evaluator who turns out to be his ex Katya (Olga Kurylenko).
A Perfect Day manages to balance a realistic depiction of aid work in a war-torn country with a strong sense of humor. I didn’t expect it to unfold the way it did, but I enjoyed it immensely.
A Perfect Day pulls off quite a few different things. Above all, it felt entirely realistic. I have no problem imagining that working in a country where war is almost but not quite over would be like this: filled with bureaucracy and desperation and inventiveness and somehow all of these extraordinary things become quiet routine, despite the very palpable sense of threat that underlies everything: Landmines aren’t exactly uncommon. Kids will draw guns when fighting for soccer balls. Seemingly abandoned villages can house all kinds of threats. Roads are closed by militia types transporting prisoners to who knows where.
In all this chaos you have the aid workers who may be a special breed of people, but certainly not because they are particularly saintly. But they can see the exhilaration in the dangers, the humor in the absurdity and above all they can see that they may do some good, even if they too struggle through various restrictions, material and otherwise. And I think that is a rather fair assessment of both the people and the situations they find themselves in. And I really liked those people, probably because they were all a little weird, but not in a gimmicky, flashy way (okay, maybe for B that’s true).
Unfortunately every once in a while the film becomes a little sexist and could have done with a little more feminism. But it never becomes too much that I couldn’t enjoy the film anymore. In a way, it even enhanced the realism – just because those aid workers are good, probably leftist people doesn’t necessarily make them feminist icons.
In any case, A Perfect Day made me laugh and kept me engaged the entire time. And it had the perfect, albeit surprising amount of explosions for a film of its kind. [Plus, Benicio Del Toro at peak sexiness.] I approve.