Movie Review by Dan Spiers

Starring: Pernilla August, Jacob Eklund, Marie Richardson, Leif Andree
Director: Björn Runge

DAYBREAK, written and directed by Bjorn Runge, is a film about human relationships and how very complex they are. Through the course of a tumultuous day, in three parallel stories, we see the liberation of individuals from obsessions that have discoloured their lives and that of their families.

Rickard (Jakob Eklund) is a surgeon. Discovering he has not gained the promotion he anticipated, he returns home to be reminded by his wife that he is having dinner with his best friend whose wife happens to be his mistress. The meal is disrupted by a series of revelations which lead to him crawling around in a field of mud.

Anders (Magnus Krepper) is a bricklayer. A workaholic, he is failing to recognize his wife and child are feeling increasingly neglected. In deciding to take another job rather than join them for family fun he enters the bizarre world of a revolting couple whose desire to be sealed off from the outside world has led them to ask Anders to brick-up their home.

Anita (Ann Petren) is spent. She is bitter to the core and consumed with loathing for her ex-husband and his beautiful, young partner. A professional pill popper she takes an opportunity to swap medication for a stun gun and decides to revisit her old home and meet her replacement.

The way in which Runge peels back the layers of these people and their pitiful excuses for partners, families and friends, is quite something. Emotionally it is red raw, relentlessly ripped back to the bone, consisting of characters with very little to redeem them. In fact, Anita and Rickard are revealed to be so diseased, so rotten with bitterness and hatred that it is a surprise they don’t spontaneously decompose.

But watching this emotional wreckage, if not fun, is certainly engrossing. The scene in which Anita is torn between kissing and torturing her ex-husband, is the realisation, albeit extreme, of a common fantasy, whilst Rickard’s dinner party from hell is packed with so much dishonesty, on so many different levels that it is harrowing to behold.

Although Runge flings us headlong into such darkness, for Anders and Anita at least, their stories are an act of catharsis. There is an immense amount of figurative blood letting, and it is fleshy and messy, but light does illuminate their emotional gloom.

Although the conclusion of Rikard’s story is a disappointment, his collapse arguably the prelude to just another bout of philandering, DAYBREAK is a remarkable film. The performances are fantastic, with modern monsters made in the form of Rickard and Anita. It is remorselessly honest and though the majority of the journey is spent wading through an emotional cesspit, it is actually quite refreshing.

4 out of 6 stars