by Francis Joseph A. Cruz
A plane passes through a passive sky that serves as background to an industrial chimney bellowing smoke that simmers in with clouds. The scene repeats four to five times, before an undrastic change in tempo, a hint of music, and then, an abrupt cut. The montage, impertinent in the way that it breaks traditional conventions in cinema by adamantly refusing to move forward, emphasises the film’s overt minimalism.
Thomas Imbach’s Day is Done, shot mostly from his Zurich apartment, forcibly transports its audience within a place of restricted span and scope, limiting its visuals to the sometimes banal but mostly hypnotic images that are ironically conjured from the filmmaker’s singular point of view. It is convenient to describe the film as simply a collage of everyday sights from the sleepy part of the filmmaker’s hometown. However, it seems that the film persists as a subtle, arguably to the point of frustrating, account of time and change.
The film partakes of a similar approach to Andy Warhol’s Empire (1964), without of course the celebrity of the famous New York City landmark, by inviting the viewer to gaze more than to watch in order to comprehend the minute details that signal the passage of time and the movement of change.
The film’s soundtrack, composed mainly of recorded messages from Imbach’s answering machine collected through time and various songs that accompany the images by either wit or circumstance, provides an inward view of the apartment as opposed to the outward view provided by the imagery. Almost like an autobiography, the soundtrack facilitates the images by detailing the stories that happen in Imbach’s life – like the birth of his son, him growing up, the blossoming of his career, the deterioration of his relationship with his son’s mother. Not unlike his Zurich neighbourhood, Imbach’s life takes the form of a document of time and change while in a seeming standstill.
Day is Done is hardly the type of film that rewards its viewers instantly. Like the planes that breeze through that distinct Zurich sky, the film is an object of mysterious charm whose pleasures are derived from the deliberate discovery of the profound from what is ostensibly a visual and aural barrage of the mundane.
(First published here. Read more in the Berlinale Talent Press website)