Director Leon de Aranoa’s A Perfect Day opens in 1995 “somewhere in the Balkans” with a bloated blue body in a well and two Aid Across Borders workers trying to retrieve it before the water source for the local village is contaminated beyond use. When the fraying rope snaps, more members of the team respond and the search is on for new rope to finish the job and thus ensues a day in the life of an aid worker(s) performing impossible feats under impossible circumstances with little resources and no support.
Set in craggy mountainous terrain, Benicio Del Toro is perfect as Mambru, the burned out leader of this varied merry band, which includes Tim Robbins, whose wise cracking character B, provides the comic relief; Sophie (Melanie Thierry) an inexperienced French water and sanitation specialist; Katya (Olga Kurylenko) an internal affairs auditor sent in to evaluate as the Bosnian conflict winds down – and with whom Mambru has had a past relationship, and their loyal Interpreter Damir, (Fedja Stukan).
It is a long emotional 24 hours full of fiascoes for our Aid workers as they take on bureaucracy, Nicola, a young boy who doesn’t know he’s been orphaned (Eldar Residovic), teenaged bullies with guns, potential cow carcass bombs, uncooperative locals and inflexible U.N. Soldiers just to name a few – just to get a dead fat guy out of a well! The film was able to balance the horrors of war by offsetting it with spurts of humor, and the very human quality of wanting to help those who are suffering and in need.
I really enjoyed this movie and would recommend it, though I was never quite certain in which direction Aranoa was going? Is this a dark comedy or is it a war time drama? Or neither? Doesn’t matter – I liked it and Del Toro and Robbins were fantastic. This film completely captured the rock star quality of the Aid Across Borders team with the choices of music for the sound track, which features the likes of Marilyn Manson, The Ramones and The Velvet Underground – loud jarring punk rock and roll for painful jarring situations in a war torn country.