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Film review: A 'Day' in the life of a terrorist

Published: Friday, June 1 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT — ** 1/2 — Luisa Williams; not rated, probable PG-13 (adult themes, profanity).

At first, "Day Night Day Night" appears to be some sort of personal-hygiene film, as the first 15 or 20 minutes feature a young woman washing her clothes, bathing, taking care of personal grooming, brushing her teeth.

But this terrorist thriller turns out to be more interesting than those opening scenes would suggest — though the no-frills, almost docudrama style might frustrate some viewers. And so will the deliberate way in which screenwriter/director Julia Loktev keeps certain, seemingly crucial information obscured.

Her film shows the day-to-day activities of a would-be terrorist (played by Luisa Williams) as she prepares to detonate a bomb in New York's Times Square. We never learn her name, ethnic heritage or even her true motivations for wanting to become a terrorist.

We're shown scenes of the young woman, who has been taken to a hotel by men who initially appear to be shadowy — or masked — captors. But instead, they're the masterminds of this operation, and over a series of hours, they outfit her, indoctrinate her, establish a false identity for her and then make sure their plan is set in motion.

However, the woman's nerves start getting the best of her, especially once she's dropped off in the middle of New York City and suddenly sees just how many people may be affected by her actions.

Newcomer Williams gives an impressive lead performance. The film's format and style dictate that she has to hold our interest throughout, sometimes without dialogue.

And Loktev (the 1998 documentary "Moment of Impact") really ratchets up the suspense in the film's second half, in which questions arise as to whether the young woman will really go through with the bombing.

"Day Night Day Night" is not rated but would probably receive a PG-13 for discussions of adult themes (including terrorist activities), and some scattered strong profanity. Running time: 94 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com