Review: Day Night Day Night

Day Night Day Night

Like United 93, Day Night Day Night exploits our post-9/11 anxieties. It shuns context and elaborates nothing, existing only to entertain—more specifically, to entertain the idea that there are suicide bombers among us. Writer-director Julia Loktev introduces her nameless main character (referred to as “she” in the final credits) as if she were a distant relative of Rosetta or Keane—shot from the back, her face disclosed from the audience. She is similarly sequestered from the world within the film, huddled in secrecy by masked men into a hotel room, where she is not permitted to look outside the window, meticulously showering, brushing her teeth, and disposing her toiletries. By now, even those who haven’t read the film’s synopsis will understand that this beautiful young girl is prepping for the last day of her life. We learn nothing about her, only that she has a brother and that she’s all pleases and thank-yous, before she arrives in Port Authority, having been trained to identify herself as someone whom she is not and equipped with a nail bomb inside a bright yellow backpack. Even those who don’t have to commute through Times Square daily will recoil in horror as “she” buys food and tries to pick a spot for her explosive exit from the world. Grippingly photographed by Benoît Debie, whose camera makes no attempt to disguise itself from the New York masses, the film evinces a perpetual sense of danger. (Indeed, no one will be immune from this girl’s rain of bullets, not even All My Children’s Alicia Minshew, who I think I spotted hovering behind “she” on the corner of 42nd and 8th in front of Duane Reade.) Loktev’s idea of human interest is having one New Yorker after another give a quarter to “she” when the girl needs to make a phone call, but this uncharacteristic display of kindness doesn’t seem to scan for the film’s young terrorist as a justification of the worthiness of the people around her. Luisa Williams’s fear is credible but her talents are not so grand to elevate what is a lazy abstraction of a character. In the end, Day Night Day Night is nothing more, nothing less than another exercise in sadistic immediacy.

 Cast: Luisa Williams, Josh P. Weinstein, Gareth Saxe, Nyambi Nyambi, Frank Dattolo, Annemarie Lawless, Tschi-hun Kim, Richard Morant, Jennifer Camilo, Rosemary Apolinaris, Jennifer Restrepo, Julissa Perez  Director: Julia Loktev  Screenwriter: Julia Loktev  Distributor: IFC Films  Running Time: 94 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2006  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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