"Day Night Day Night" seems the sort of movie that will polarize viewers. Some will love it while others will find it unbearable. I'm in the former group. The plot, alas, has been inaccurately described here by another viewer. Unfortunately, I cannot correct the error since doing so would reveal a major spoiler. I'll cite the relevant plot points.
A young woman, superbly portrayed by Luisa Williams (Chacun Son Cinéma), arrives in an American city and is picked up by a man who takes her to a hotel. She is soon visited by three men, who prepare her to be a suicide bomber. The remainder of the film deals with the woman's quest.
Describing the plot, however, is grossly insufficient. "Day Night Day Night" is an extremely slow movie, and that slowness is a huge part of the point. The camera lingers on the woman as she clips her toenails, washes her clothing in the hotel sink, or shaves her armpits. At other points, the filmmakers elevate certain sounds, especially the sounds of the woman's eating and of ambient conversations. It certainly would be possible to fast-forward through some of these spots without losing any sense of what happens, but to do so would be, I believe, to miss the point.
That point, as I understand it, is that the woman is human. Yes, she is planning a murderous act, but she is also human. Her target, we know, is an American city, but we do not know why. As she prepares for her attack, she does the thoroughly normal things that we all do. She bathes, turns on lights in her hotel room, and performs other mundane tasks. She is, it seems, the antithesis of Robert DeNiro's Travis Bickle (from Taxi Driver). And yet she seems so calmly prepared for her mission. (Here, comparisons to Camus's Mersault in The Stranger are apt.) It is the utter calmness (and the civility she and her trainers show) that are the point.
Finally, I would be remiss were I to allow Luisa Williams's performance to pass without further comment. There are almost no characters other than the woman who have both lines and their faces on screen. That leaves Williams to carry the film. Her job is further complicated by the fact that she has very few lines for someone who is onscreen for almost every minute of the film. Those lines that she does have are banal. There's no "Make my day" or even "Rosebud" here. Nobody is going to quote lines from this movie. Nonetheless, Williams delivers an astonishingly powerful performance, expressing volumes without speaking. Her understated performance alone earns this movie a fifth star from me.