Day Night Day Night

Day Night Day Night

The Sanctuary for Independent Media

February 22, 2010 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

We never see the bomb; we only see the backpack and headphones that disguise the detonator as a young woman prepares to become a suicide bomber.

The 19-year-old, known only as She, is a Tabla Rasa, with no discernible accent, ethnicity or family history. She is extremely vulnerable, alone, except for the men in masks who take her through the motions of preparation for her mission. The viewer never learns why she has made her momentous decision, we just know it's been made. We are also left in the dark as to who She represents or what She believes in: we only know she believes it absolutely. The film strips the story down to its existential core, focusing on microscopic movements, the smallest of gestures, an economy of banal details.

Day Night Day Night is divided into two visually and aurally distinct parts: Preparation and Action. In the first part, the film faithfully follows the chronological order of events over the span of day to night as She prepares to execute her mission. She washes her socks, is dressed and fitted into the backpack, waits. Then the action begins: she's in Times Square, alone. The film now becomes a series of trials, missteps and setbacks.

The film has no music and a minimal, at times improvised, script. Director Loktev draws out a powerful and emotional performance from untrained, first-time actress Luisa Williams in the lead role. Loktev also uses an extraordinary sound design track to cleverly build the tension and suspense, making the experience all too real.

Inspired in part by a Russian newspaper article about a female Chechen suicide bomber wandering around Moscow, the film could take place anywhere. But it happens to take place in Times Square, a target whose symbolism is so specific that it becomes generalized; a target so simple because it's so obvious. Playing off a history of Joan of Arc films, the movie transpires mainly on the young woman's face. The minimalism of her expressions is contrasted by the visual and aural noise of New York City as faith comes face-to-face with the possibility of failure.

See the trailer.

Click here to read the full New York magazine interview with Julia Loktev.

Click here to read the New York Times review.


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