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Day Night Day Night: a date with a terrorist


To walk the streets of New York on any given day feels like waking inside an anthill, the gathering of people so immense in such a narrow space that you are bound to collide with a multitude of faces, each unique yet hard to distinguish. You are absorbed by the radiant lights of Times Square, the stench of the NY Subway System, and the bruises of the best city in the world. New York is the closest you will ever be to becoming invisible. In Day Night Day Night, a young woman journeys into the heart of the city with a bomb harboring in her backpack and a volume remote as her trigger.

In another indie slice of life piece, director Julia Loktev follows a rather shy and polite teenager from her arrival to a New Jersey motel to her attempts to make another tragic dent into the Big Apple. The girl, who is nameless and never given a specific reason for her motivation, is met by masked men from an unknown terrorist group. She follows instructions with the submission and efficiency of a domesticated pooch. She is later dressed in clothes that appear from the Old Navy Winter collection, and dropped into the city like one would drop a child to school. As she buys time before she goes along with her suicide bombing, her determination is met with the urgency to complete the task and the doubt of taking her own life.

In her examination of a vulnerable would- be -terrorist mind, Loktev has no investment in causes or effects of this extreme warfare tactic(a great film for that is Paradise Now). She is interested, however, in the emotions that arise from self- sacrifice. Are these terrorists that detonate themselves as devoid of feeling as we picture them to be? Are they really guided by a belief that it is a calling from a higher power? With the girl, we get the frame of her thoughts by her actions; She denies taking a photo for a tourist couple, avoids help when she trips, and spends her money on comfort food she can barely eat. These patterns of anxiety convert into desperation when the bomb fails to go off. She returns to the target area and presses on the trigger like a lighter that ran out of fluid. She is left to roam with a deactivated weapon on her back, with no answers why she was forsaken.

If you are a fan of the Dardenne brothers work you will probably really like or fall in love with this movie, if you are not, then the narrative trend might feel incomplete. Like I said before, the director has no interest in resolution. I felt that some scenes ran too long, especially her training period. A lot of those scenes keep running longer than they should(there's a scene where she is in the car with her driver and it feels like they were unedited to reach a feature length time of 90 minutes). To it's credit, however, unknown actress Luisa Williams is convincing as the young woman. Her reactions are both intense and subdued, as one can see what she is going through while at the same time she conceals everything to those few she encounters. Also, the scenes were she is a pulse away from exploding are derivative of a great french noir thriller. The noise is silenced, the girl is at the center of the crowd is highlighted by her yellow jacket, the close ups of strangers heads and hands coincide with her hand shaking, holding the trigger. -JR

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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