When the Light Breaks (2024) Un Certain Regard 2024

May 15th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dr/Wri: Rúnar Rúnarsson | Cast: 

Rúnar Rúnarsson’s latest film, When the Light Breaks opens the Un Certain Regard in the festival’s official selection

This simple but never simplistic study of profound and repressed grief takes place in springtime Reykjavik where a young pan-sexual woman’s joy is turned to sorrow after a tragic event sends her on a rollercoaster ride to emotional hell.

When the Light Breaks is the Icelandic director’s fourth feature  and follows his 2019 portmanteau feature Echo that won the Youth Jury Award at Locarno Film Festival.

Once again the tone is sombre but this time the narrative lacks the bite of his previous fare in particular Sparrows (2015) and plays out as a predictable story of loss that is nevertheless moving in its depiction of collective grief. It centres on Una (breakout teenage star Elín Hall) who is in the early stages of a relationship with Baldar Einarsson’s Diddi when they are separated by tragedy. The remainder of the film explores the aftermath to the event and the affects it has on Diddi’s circle of friends and particularly on Una who is unable to reveal their nascent affair for reasons that will soon become clear as the film unspools. 

DoP Sophia Olsson makes atmospheric use of Iceland’s rugged landscapes that contrast with the sleek architectural framing of modernist interiors and the particularly resonant scenes that take place in Reykjavik’s expressionist neo-gothic Hallgrímskirkja Church of Iceland that soars 244 feet into the blue yonder. Something to behold and very much in keeping with the film’s spiritual undertones. @MeredithTaylor


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