A Perfect Day centres on a group of aid workers who are hired to resolve a crisis in an armed conflict zone in the Balkans. Set in 1995, the film begins with Mambrú (Benicio Del Toro) pulling a corpse out of a village’s well. A water sanitation worker on the task force, Sophie (Mélanie Thierry) believes getting the body out of the well should be the village’s primary concern because this is the village’s main source of drinking water.
Directed by Fernando Léon de Aranoa, A Perfect Day is a Spanish film that aims to critique the bureaucratic ways that exist in warfare in this region at this point in time. The strengths of this film lay in the rare look into the devastating conditions civilians endure and the terror they face from their neighbours. Through this perspective, audiences get an inside look into the trials faced by international militia and the constant fear of hidden mines and areas of attack.
Problems arise when Sophie and Mambrú almost hit an orphan boy with their car. Suddenly the film forgets all about the body in the village’s well and doesn’t return to it until almost the very end, leaving everything that happens in between confusing and taking away from what this film could have been.
The cast is lead by Benicio Del Toro, Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko and not even they could save this film. The acting is superb, but with a weak script and very out-of-place soundtrack, this film falls short of being what it could have been. The script sets out to showcase a cynical sense of humour to handle the difficult circumstances they are facing in warfare but unfortunately just comes across as cringe-worthy. The cinematography of rural Spain posing as the war-torn Balkans is beautiful, though, and plays an important character in the film.