Day Night Day Night
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this intense film about a 19-year-old suicide bomber isn't for kids. The unnamed protagonist is convinced that blowing herself up with a backpack bomb in Times Square is the right thing to do, but since the movie doesn't go into her motivation or background, it's hard to know just what to think of her -- and that ambivalence could be hard for teens to process. There are several tense moments as she nears the end of her mission.
What's the story?
DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT follows a 19-year-old unnamed protagonist (Luisa Williams) as she prepares to carry a backpack into Times Square and blow herself up in a crowd. The character isn't placed in any context, she's simply picked up by a driver, fed a dinner of Chinese noodles, deposited in a motel room, and instructed not to open the curtain or show her face at the window. Almost painfully polite, the girl shows an intense focus on her task: She memorizes her new identity, practices pushing the detonator button, and repeats her instructions in careful monotone. The next morning, the leaders of the plot outfit her in a pale blue track jacket and suggest that she film a "martyr's video." Then they fill her yellow backpack with explosives and nails and send her on to Port Authority.
Is it any good?
Quite brilliantly, the movie never explains the girl or makes her strange in order to ease viewers' mind; rather, it makes you nervous both for and about her. Viewers learn that she has a little brother and parents, but she remains isolated and waiflike -- even as her determination and ingenuity are combined with an appealing clumsiness and confusion. She's sure and not sure, transparent and unreadable. She's not demonized, but it's also hard to understand what she's doing.
The camera stays close on the girl's face throughout the film, but the focus becomes most intense when she's cast among the crowd on the sidewalk: Here, the noise of traffic, conversations, and even music from passing cars becomes almost overwhelming.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the movie handles its protagonist's plan. Why do you think the filmmakers chose not to include her motives, her background, or even where she's from? What messages does that send about both people's ability to identify terrorists and the reasons people have for committing these acts in the first place? What do you think of her? Why do you feel that way? Was it because of what you saw in the movie or because of ideas and feelings you had before?