Another Day to Live Through (2023)

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Another Day To Live Through

Another Day to Live Through (2023)
Directed and Written by Peter Simmons
Available on digital in the UK

“Evil men don’t die easily,

God doesn’t want them,

The Devil can wait…”

A great proverb that suitably sets the tone for the experience that is “Another Day to Live Through”. In the spirit of 2020s “Alone” and 2016s “10 Cloverfield Lane”, Finland delivers its own take on the “woman trapped with creepy man” movie blended equal parts with Sir Anthony Hopkins 2020 “The Father”, a psychological drama. “Another Day to Live Through”, though classed as a psychological thriller, this is more of a psychological drama. Both genres can be great and entertaining but, in perhaps an odd point to make, “Another Day to Live Through”, can’t seem to make it’s mind up on which it wants to be. There are no wrong answers, both are good!

Comparison to 2020s “The Father” are made due a character’s malfunctioning mind. And we, the audience, get to feel what that is like.

The title alone is an unsettling sequence of words presumably concocted from the suicidally indeative mind. And our characters sure have their struggles.

This film relies heavily on the performances of the cast. Lene Kqiku plays the protagonist, Satu, and Timo Torikka plays villain, Lauri. Both put in great depictions of their characters, particularly Lene Kqiku, who shoulders most of the narrative burden. This is one of those films that would have made a fantastic stage play – and if it’s ever realised as such, sign me up!

The music is performed by Twotwentytwo (how very last year, teehee), and they provide a suitable ambiance, though when the tension ratchets up, the music remains ambient. Perfect for some scenes, not so much for others.

Before we get into SPOILERS, what will remain unspoiled in this review, is the films closing shot which is fantastic, and forces the audience to re-evaluate!

There is one thing that needs to be said right at the start; this is a good looking film. Finland is a beautiful country and we are treated to some fantastic establishing shots. The log cabin setting particularly made me want to visit as a country retreat. I do get the feeling that the log cabin is as it appears in real life, that is to say, it has remained untouched by the movie’s production for reasons I suspect would be budgetary. Shame in one sense, as this production’s story would be perfectly at home in the moss laden, fog drenched log cabin that appeared in 2002s American remake, “The Ring”. That is context for the story, not the setting. This film captures Finland’s beauty in a way that “Sisu” did not.

The film opens (more than once, it has to be said) with a naked and bloodied woman walking into an idyllic lake, then, on “Day 10”, that same woman wakes up in a strange bed, walks around like she has no idea where she is (accurate), kneels down before a mirror and says “Hello”. Following this, we then begin proper at “Day 1”.

Ok, so in some films, the numbering of days makes sense: take “The Ring” for example, viewers of the video tape receive a courtesy phone call from customer services beyond the grave advising they have, “Seven days”, left to live. The Hitchcockian ticking bomb then becomes the entire movie, as day after day rolls buy and death creeps steadily closer. Can they solve the mystery in time? “Another Day to Live Through” utilizes this narrative device, and is entirely unsuited for it. The second of the three openings starts with, “Day 10”. We don’t know what day the first opening is, presumably it is later on in the evening of “Day 10”. We then go to “Day 1”. Now, I understand that flash forwards have a purpose; and there’s nothing wrong with the framing device; however, when our protagonist is cognitively impaired and days are shown to bleed into each other, the numbered days offer a structured order that rather detracts from, and undermines, the films efforts to unmoor the audience with chaos and confusion – to see the film through the protagonists eyes, so to speak, as she appears to have lost all sense of time.

Another thing I found a little jarring was the continual switching between Finnish and English. This is fine when it is cued up, like the introduction of a character who only speaks English – or “Hunt for the Red October”(s) Russian to English switch. And I know bilingual people do conversationally switch between languages, but for the films, can we pick one and stick to it? I like to know if I have to drop my eyes to the bottom of the screen to read or not, and in this film, the picturesque scenery is such that I didn’t want to miss any of it!

Satu’s facial recognition software has malfunctioned. She suffers from prosopagnosia, or face blindness, as a result of the gunshot wound to the head. Admittedly, this is not the worst thing that could arise from a gunshot to the head; but it does pose a very interesting question; if you were captured and you couldn’t recognise faces, how would you know who to trust? In this age of endless CGI, the “faceless” effects are enduringly haunting. There’s just something creepy about a face that’s missing eyes, nose and a mouth yet knowing there’s still a person there.

Satu’s prosopagnosia leads to the death of a Russian man. Whether he’s innocent or not is anyone’s guess. But I found he detracted from the narrative’s core, a battle of wits between a captured woman with prosopagnosia and her broken-ankle’d captor. I get that, in order to show she can’t see faces, we need more than one face to go on, but it also has the reverse problem of undermining the film’s key dynamic.

Lauri puts Satu to sleep and goes through her belongings whilst she’s passed out. He then reads her letters and has an entire conversation with her as she sleeps, taking the liberty of saying her part of the conversation out loud and in her stead. Timo displays a range of emotions in this scene, from faux laughter to distress (Satu’s private thoughts are not all positive). He experiences her letters vicariously and far too keenly for it to be normal. Lauri has his quarry, he has the power and the control, and in this scene he forms a most pitiable character, someone so lonely that he needs the company of his victims. Satu wakes to find herself dressed in clothes that are not hers … ick!

There’s the television mirroring the cabin’s vibe. The same film is played over and over, just as every day between the characters bleeds into each other, indistinguishable, indivisible, different but same. A part of me thinks these characters should have been trapped together for longer than just ten days!

This film is undeniably atmospheric, with twists and turns that kept me watching, even if a few didn’t work for me. Having said that, it’s a delight to watch a film and not know where things are going, and that was certainly the case here. The no-face makeup was unsettling, the music unnerving, and the atmosphere downright creepy.

“I’m not sick Bob, I’ll make your breakfast.”

Rating: ★★★½☆

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