The beauty of A White, White Day lies in the unsaid. Ingimundur (Ingvar Sigurdsson) a former policeman, lives for two purposes only: to spend time with his dear granddaughter, Salka (Ída Mekkín Hlynsdóttir), and to finish building a house on a remote piece of land in a small Icelandic town. Soon enough, it becomes clear this withdrawal is a side-effect of a terrible, sudden loss.
Whilst building this isolated house, Ingimundur rebuilds his own sense of existence. Both processes come with their own bumps along the way, be they a hammer missing a nail and hitting a finger or a complete mental breakdown that results in the destruction of a desk computer. More than a portrait of grieving, the film is about the journey of a man struggling to allow himself to love his wife again, to recuperate a feeling that fuelled the best moments of a life that he still cannot seem to comprehend to be gone.
The main character was written specifically for Ingvar Sigurdsson, a long-time collaborator of writer and director Hylnur Palmason. The result is a sublime performance delivered by the former, who masterly embodies the harrowing quest for normalcy after death. Palmason expertly amplifies his protagonist’s tendency for contemplation with a series of long, static shots. Much can be seen in the expressions of the veteran Icelandic actor, who delivers some of his best scenes when dwelling on the loudness of quietude.
As Ingimundur descends into paranoia, the film imposes inherently philosophical questions regarding the true nature of men. Here, Palmason beautifully employs the figure of Salka (played by the director’s own daughter) as an emblem of redemption, her naturally forgiving disposition fully allowing the main character to finally accept the fact that there is much more to being than the simple dichotomy of good and bad.