A Perfect Day is a film about futility. Specifically, it’s a film about futility in the final days of the Bosnian war. It’s not a film about said Bosnian war, though – it quite deliberately omits any details that would shed any light on the politics and ramifications of that conflict, instead focusing on an international suite of aid workers, played by an equally international raft of actors: Benicio del Toro, Olga Kurylenko, Tim Robbins, Mélanie Thierry, Fedja Stukan.
Faced with an especially unsavoury challenge, these variously accented, implausibly attractive aid workers set about an apparently simple task – removing a fresh corpse dumped into a local water well for the express purpose of poisoning it – turns Sisyphean as they face opposition from both the UN and locals (who, for example, refuse to sell them rope as they’re needed for hanging). The moral of the story is simple: getting shit done in a warzone is hard.
A fine, admirable message. The problem is that the film can’t quite nail the tone or structure around it, feinting towards (black) comedy before sliding towards a drama sabotaged by its protagonists’ fundamental futility; turns out a lack of agency makes for a poor dramaturgical foundation.