Owen Gleiberman
February 09, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Daybreak (Movie - 2005)

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
108 minutes
Limited Release Date
02/02/05
performer
Peter Anderson, Leif Andree
director
Bjorn Runge
distributor
New Market Films
author
Bjorn Runge
genre
Drama, Foreign Language

We gave it a B-

The Swedes just about have a patent on unrelenting dissections of marital discord, but that hardly means that a movie like Daybreak, with its trendy angst and bile, can hold a candle to the poison-pen truth games of Strindberg or Bergman. The writer-director Björn Runge leans far too heavily on his nervous, handheld camera to tell the stories of three interlinked couples whose lives are turned topsy-turvy when the demons they’ve been concealing emerge. A middle-aged man and his younger lover are terrorized by his ex-wife, a frowning harridan who wields a Taser and binds him, all the better to make him listen as she spews her venom. A philandering surgeon and his spouse host a dinner party — for the mistress who informed him that day that she’s pregnant. In the oddest episode (it’s like a Short Cuts anecdote that didn’t make the cut), a bitter, aging couple hires a bricklayer to seal them inside their home. The snappish domestic infighting is effectively staged, yet beneath its ”raw” atmosphere Daybreak traffics in pop-sociological clichés (why does every wife have to be a victim?). It makes the audience feel sealed-in, too.

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