Daybreak

Rated R 2005

An aging couple's daughter marries a Nigerian man, shows up only to ask for money, and then disappears in Africa. A frigid husband sells the only house his wife and their two sons have ever loved, so that he can take a job in another city, a job he loses before he starts. A workaholic bricklayer takes on job after job without getting paid, neglecting his family for the promise of money -- with which he intends to buy his daughter a horse she doesn't want. Affairs aplenty. Embittered marriages. Vicious exes. Alcohol. Mental illness. Infertility. Physical assault. Emotional manipulation. They've got it all in Sweden, and most of it is in this movie. At the character-and-scene level -- with its tight script and riveting acting -- Daybreak succeeds and even, occasionally, triumphs. The problem is the larger picture. After taking exquisite pains to portray abject misery, it offers a weak sunrise and some symbols of catharsis to purge the pain. And in two out of three cases, the grim disasters cannot be redeemed.

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Daybreak

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