Day Night Day Night Movie Review

The 19-year-old girl featured in Julia Loktev's Day Night Day Night can only be referred to as "she" or "her" by her cohorts and only referred to as "sweetie" or "baby" by anyone else. Her honey-tinted arms swing like any other girl and her voice, with just a hint of an implacable accent, lilts and shivers in distinctly feminine ways. She is the awkward girl you played with in the park when you were 10 and your cousin's shy friend that you thought was sorta cute. And that's what makes this movie so hard to comprehend.

The girl (an astounding Luisa Williams) arrives at her destination, takes her cell phone out and talks with a man who directs her outside to a car driven by another man. She gets two vegetable egg rolls for later. In her hotel room, she surveys the room, begins to wash herself, and takes time to shave her armpits and clip her toenails. She goes towards the window but immediately gets a call from the man telling her to stay away from it. After much waiting, three men dressed almost exactly alike, wearing black ski-masks, come into the room and start prepping her.

The men buy her just the right clothes and order her pizza before they drive to a remote basement the next morning. The men in the basement, also fitted with ski-masks and who communicate in sign language for the most part, fit her with a heavy backpack and teach her how to use an explosive detonator that looks like a normal MP3 player. She is dropped at a bus stop and takes a bus into Port Authority. From there, she walks to her destination: Times Square.

Done on a budget that probably wouldn't pay Spider-Man 3's catering bill, Day Night Day Night works on hand-held camera, non-professional acting, and lack of permits like few other films. The 20 minutes spent in Times Square are done unlawfully, explaining the glances that people pay towards the camera. The places aren't the pull though: it's watching Williams in nearly every frame, assured and jittery, jaded yet hopeful. Williams doesn't work so much as a persona but rather an alien entity floating in the judgments and random good deeds that occur on the same street where Paramount and MTV house their NYC offices.

Loktev's sublime experiment ultimately derives its power from the details and small moments of unfetishized humanity. While eating a slice of pizza in the company of her three guides, she gently asks if the men will eat the pizza with her. Once in Times Square, she compulsively eats sweets and is given several quarters by passers-by for a phone call. In general, the film ignores its hot-button dynamics and becomes solely about the preparation for its ending. Loktev never gives us a simple why; we only know she believes in something as she prays to a certain "You" during punctuated shots on a bus. Breathlessly organic, Day Night Day Night snubs all belief in some calculated evil coming to wipe us out of existence. If anything, Loktev's film says something scarier than any other notion put into the popular vernacular of terrorism: We simply don't know.

That's gonna cause lower back pain later in life. Er...

Cast & Crew

Director : Julia Loktev

Producer : Julia Loktev, Melanie Judd, Jessica Levin

Starring : Luisa Williams, Josh P. Weinstein, Gareth Saxe, Nyambi Nyambi

Comments

Day Night Day Night Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 2007

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