The title may be ironic, but the atmosphere of A Perfect Day is laden with gloom and desperation, as it should be, because the film is set right at the end of the worst civil war in a European country since the fall of the Iron Curtain: the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (By contrast, the current turmoil in Ukraine is more of an international conflict than a civil war.)
Of course, the war has been covered in countless films over the years, from Michael Winterbottom’s cleverly dramatized Welcome to Sarajevo and Danis Tanović’s brilliant, insightful No Man’s Land (Ničija zemlja) to this year’s poetic three-part The High Sun (Zvizdan) or the offensive, badly Hollywoodized Savior.
All of these films focus on the barbarity of the genocide that occurred in industrial Europe’s backyard, but every single one except Savior also took an intimate look at the emotional toll the war took on its victims. A Perfect Day marks an unfortunate departure, because while it is well-executed, its main characters are foreigners whose voices simply cannot be as strong or sincere as those of the Bosnians themselves.
Set shortly after the Dayton Agreement, which officially ended the Bosnian War, had been signed, A Perfect Day does not spell out where it takes place, although its alignment with the historical context of the war in the former Yugoslavia are made very clear throughout.
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(Still of Tim Robbins, Benicio Del Toro, Mélanie Thierry, Olga Kurylenko and Fedja Stukan in A Perfect Day. © Fernando Marrero)