A Day and A Half: Spoiler Review

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Poster for A Day and A Half. Top half has the title of the film and a black car. Bottom half has an image of the three lead actors/characters.

(by Gina Meardon)

A Day And A Half aka En dag och en halv (2023) is a Swedish action-drama-thriller feature film for Netflix available globally. It premiered on 1st September. It is 1 hour 34 minutes in duration and rated 15 (UK). In Swedish with subtitles (also available dubbed).


In a desperate bid to reunite with his daughter, an armed man bursts into the medical centre where his estranged wife works and kidnaps her. Police officer Lukas is forced to drive them at gunpoint on an emotionally charged road trip through rural Sweden during a hot summer, all the while being pursued by the police.


Alexej Manvelov as Artan Kelmendi
Alma Pöysti as Louise Bremer
Fares Fares as Lukas Malki
Stina Ekblad as Wanja Bremer
Annika Hallin as Dr. Gardelius
Richard Forsgren as Jack Lilja
Annica Liljeblad as Anna
Jonathan Sand as Police Officer
Bengt C.W. Carlsson as Stefan Bremer
Johni Tadi as Dr. Yakoub
Clara Hallencreutz Fares as Woman with Babies
Amanda Jalmberger as Nurse
Amicia Heibel as Cassandra
Lisa Forslund as Rebecka
Lukas Orwin as Mikael
Linda Hellström as Vera
Karl Larsson as Police Officer
Erik Holmström as Reporter Niklas
Christofer Thuresson as National Task Force Officer


Writers: Fares Fares, Peter Smirnakos
Director: Fares Fares
Cinematographer: Marianne Bakke
Editors: Kathleen Farman, Annie Jihde
Production Designer: Roger Rosenberg
Music: Magnus Palmborg
Sound Department: Fredrik Dalenfjäll, Fredrik Jonsäter, Oscar Lovnér, Jonas Rudels


A Day And A Half is the feature debut of director Fares Fares who got the idea for this film from a short news article he read back in 2008. He has been thinking about making it into a film ever since and decided Alexej Manvelov would make the perfect Artan, after working with him on Chernobyl, back in 2018.

The scene featuring Louise’s parents was around 11 minutes long and shot in one continuous take.

The interior car scenes were filmed both inside a real car (with crew squashed in as well as the 3 actors) and in a studio where filming took place using half a car. Most of the filming was done on location in rural Sweden.

Here are the two songs used in A Day And A Half, the last one was used for the end credits, both on Spotify:

Milk and Honey by Jackson C. Frank

Blow Him Back into My Arms by Moneybrother for end credits:

⚠️ Possible Spoilers ⚠️


I’m going to start by saying that this is NOT a “high-octane car chase road movie in a “Hollywood-style” format with guns blazing and body bags, if that is what you are looking for then this film is NOT for you.

If, however, you want a moving human drama that is compelling, gut-wrenching and very ‘real’, a film that is beautifully scripted and portrayed by three actors at the top of their game, then read on.

Alexej Manvelov is Artan Kelmendi, a man who has literally lost everything following the break-up of his marriage. Newly released from prison, after serving 3 months for assaulting his estranged wife’s father, he is desperately trying to see his baby daughter. But Louise, his wife, did not show for the previous day’s meeting. When he walks into the doctor’s surgery, where she works, the following (hot summer’s) morning, he is quite simply a man at the end of his tether, ready to do whatever it takes…

The problem is that Artan doesn’t really have a plan, although he does have a gun. His whole focus is on seeing his wife and getting her to take him to see his daughter. It’s all he wants, and if he can’t have that then he will kill her and then himself — he is so distraught he can see no other way out of the grave situation that he quickly finds escalating around him.

Cue the arrival of the super-calm police officer Lukas (Fares Fares). And, this being Sweden and not the US, there are no snipers on roofs ready to ‘take a shot’ at the volatile hostage taker, just Lukas and a cordon of police cars who end up following them in convoy when Artan insists on an unmarked car (driven by Lukas) to take them to the home of Louise’s parents when she finally tells him where their daughter, Cassandra, is.

Much of the film takes place within the confines of that (hot) car, which in itself would have been a challenge for actors and film crew. Here we, and Lukas, find out how Artan comes to be in the mess he finds himself in, and as a result, our perceptions of this warring couple begin to change. Artan may be the protagonist — and he has issues, including jealousy and a short fuse — but he is also as much the victim here as Louise is.

Lukas learns through Artan how and why their marriage fell apart, whilst Louise tries to explain her fragile mental health and reasons for leaving Artan and their baby whilst she sought treatment with Artan embarking on an affair whilst she was gone and him insisting “that it meant nothing”.

They verbally tear each other apart, all the while Artan refusing Lukas’ pleas to put down the gun. Lukas is trying to remain calm and still driving, still followed by the procession of police cars all the way to the (wealthy) in-laws who, instead of trying to defuse the situation actually attempt to make it even worse.

It is at this point that we realise just what an uphill struggle it must have been for Artan and Louise to have made any kind of success of their marriage with parents as truly as odious as hers. You can see that dawn on Lukas as he makes a monumental decision to take the child with them, rather than leave her any longer with her grandparents.

The heartbreak in the back of the car takes its toll on Lukas who begins to open up about his own life, probably in the beginning to show Artan what can be achieved when a marriage goes wrong, but as time progresses we see him confess how his relationship with his son has been irreparably damaged by the breakdown and that it was his fault things went wrong.

I’m not going to tell you how this film ends. The final twenty minutes will have you holding your breath and reaching for the tissues.

It is never right to take the desperate action that Artan did, to endanger life and not think through consequences most of us would know what they are doing is wholly wrong. He found himself in such a bleak dark place, but none of that made any difference. The tragedy, as we come to discover, is that it all could have been avoided by simple communication. In that respect Louise failed him, and with devastating results for both of them.

I said this film was ‘gut-wrenching’ at the start of the review, and that best describes Alexej Manvelov’s stand-out performance as Artan. We have never seen him deliver in a role like this and my God, did he deliver. A raw, from-the-soul, heart-rending nowhere-to-hide performance that has to be his finest yet.

Alma Pöysti as the fragile Louise, how many tears did she shed during filming! Fares Fares brought out the best performances from both these actors and his own was exemplary. But no matter how good the actors are, it can all fall apart without good writing.

Fares Fares co-wrote A Day And A Half with Peter Smirnakos, together they created a wholly believable tense hostage drama, which was confined by the true story it was based on. It wasn’t sensationalised, it was sympathetically crafted into an emotional drama, from the opening scenes to the parents’ reunion with their baby daughter, to the final outcome.

I found the vibrant cinematography of the Swedish summer countryside a visual contrast to the dark claustrophobic hostage crisis inside the car. It was filmed during last summer’s heatwave and I think that sits very well within the film.

At 1 hour and 34 minutes A Day And A Half is not a long film. But it is long enough to make a profound impression. It’s moving. It’s sad. Above all, I thought it a superb directorial debut from Fares Fares. I truly hope it, he, Alexej Manvelov and Alma Pöysti get the awards they deserve for this feature.

A Day And A Half Official Netflix Trailer, English Subtitles:


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