‘A Day and a Half’ (Original title: En dag och en halv) is the new Swedish crime thriller streaming on Netflix. Written and directed by Fares Fares, the film stars him as a stoic police officer who needs to negotiate a deal with a man who attempts kidnapping. The film also stars Alexej Manvelov and Alma Pöysti in the central roles. They play an estranged couple whose life turns more chaotic with this hostage situation. Even though the film is about the officer trying to negotiate a deal, the logline on Netflix seems incredibly off-putting and thoughtless. 

A Day and a Half isn’t about action set-pieces following an anguished chase through Sweden as much as it is about these characters conflicted with their identity struggles. It discusses topics like racism, immigration, nationality, and dysfunctional families, which sadly get reduced to a negotiator dealing with a ‘troubled’ man. Instead of focusing on his wrong deeds, the film digs into why he dared to attempt such a crime. So, the logline needs to reflect it. It’s a taut thriller, although not as memorable. 

*Spoilers ahead*

A Day and a Half (2023) ‘Netflix’ Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What is ‘A Day and a Half’ about?

A Day and a Half is about police officer Lukas (Fares Fares) negotiating a deal with Artan (Alexej Manvelov), who took his estranged wife (Louise, played by Alma Pöysti) hostage at her workplace. It begins with Artan arriving at the hospital where Louise works. He asks for an appointment with the doctor, and the counterperson tells him to wait like other patients. When she calls out his number, he asks specifically for Louise. The lady explains how that isn’t possible since Louise is preoccupied. But Artan is in no mood to listen. He suddenly takes his gun out and threatens to shoot if the staff does not bring Louise to him. 

The Hostage Situation

Louise walks out, scared to see Artan armed. Soon after, the police cars arrive outside to solve the hostage situation. They also call the hospital to speak with the kidnapper. Artan can’t think straight in that stressful situation. While Louise begs him to put the gun down, he puts a gun to her head to terrorize others. He asks a staff member to write a message on a paper, asking one of the officers to come up naked. Lukas, who had just arrived at the scene, attempts this. Artan checks that the officer has no weapons on him and agrees to let him wear the clothes back. 

Lukas tries to know Artan’s name and origins. But Artan lies and refuses to indulge. When asked about the purpose behind his crime, Artan talks about losing custody of their daughter, Cassandra. That’s why he is upset at Louise. Eventually, he lets other people leave, but Doctor Kristin stays back, worried for her. She helps Louise get the pills she needs to relieve her anxiety. Afterward, Artan asks Lukas to take him to his car while hiding him and Louise under a curtain. They enter the car, and Lukas starts driving. The police cars keep following them. 

The Car Chase

Artan sees all the police following him and gets terrified. He asks Lukas not to let them do anything reckless. Lukas calmly handles the situation and tries to keep Artan’s frustration under control. He refuses to speed up by raising concerns about police cases. Out of nowhere, Artan gets a call. The person asks him for details about the kidnap, and he cannot understand how random people know his contact number. The radio news announces the car has a bomb, which is untrue. Artan feels even worse that the authorities are making him look like a bigger criminal. 

Lukas realizes the car has low patrol. So, he tells Artan that they need to stop by the next patrol station. After some convincing, Artan agrees to it. But he sees police cars next to the station and refuses to stop there. He considers it a trap laid for him. Then, he asks to stop at another station, a bit farther. Lukas gets out, loads the car with petrol, and gets back inside. Still scared, Artan checks that he has not brought back any weapons on him. During their further drive, Artan pesters Louise about not wearing her ring. He gets angrier since it was pretty expensive. 

Artan and Louise’s Past

A still from A Day and a Half (2023).
A still from A Day and a Half (2023).

Since Louise refuses to bow down to his anger, Artan talks about how she abandoned their daughter in Antarctica. He believes she tried to kill her child. Lukas intervenes and tries to solve their marital conflict. But neither is in the mood to listen. Artan reveals that Louise gave birth to their daughter in boiling hot water. It happened because Louise was going through a psychosis. But Artan’s anger seems to have no bounds. He annoys her about being a bad parent. Eventually, he wishes to see his daughter and asks Lukas to stop by Louise’ parents’ house. Her father, Stefan, offers to let Artan see Cassandra if he puts the gun down. But Artan refuses to do that.

When they walk into Stefan’s garage, Artan confronts him for lying against him in court. He is furious that his father-in-law distanced him from his wife and his daughter. Hearing that, Stefan thinks he can buy off Artan with some money. Since Artan refuses to bow down, Stefan’s racist mindset comes out in the open. This racist man calls Artan a parasite and insults him repeatedly. Even Louise’s mother shares the same bigoted mindset. She insults her own daughter for waiting too long to have a child and then marrying a non-native resident. Despite the argument, the couple finally gets hold of their daughter. 

Artan’s Journey

Lukas warns Artan that they cannot take a child in their car. While he tries to convince Artan, Stefan arrives there with a gun to shoot his son-in-law. Lukas stops him from killing Artan. After the fight, Lukas returns to the car with Artan, Louise, and Cassandra and drives toward Arlanda. Soon after, Officer Jack – a negotiator on the National Task Force, starts communicating with Lukas. He confirms the identities of Artan and Louise. Besides, he confirms that their daughter is also in the car. Then, he tells Artan that no flight to Tirana is ready to get him on board. So, he asks for a private aircraft, which isn’t possible either. 

Jack contacted Albania’s ambassador in Sweden. He offered Artan safe passage to Tirana if he put his gun down and let his family go. But Artan refuses since it means he will need to leave his family. He decides to take the boat to Poland and then decide further. Despite Louise’s repeated to requests for Artan to accept the safe passage, he wants to take a boat back with his family.

Seeing Lukas’ conduct in this situation, Artan asks if he has often dealt with such incidents. Lukas opens up about his dysfunctional family, where his affair with another woman made his son refuse his custody. Like Artan, Lukas did not even try to get him back and disrespect his decision. Lukas points out that handling the mistake is more important than the mistake itself. 

A Day and a Half (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Ending Explained:

Does Artan manage to flee the country?

On their way to the ferry, some hooligans throw eggs on their car. That scares Cassandra, who starts weeping. Although Artan and Louise were relatively calm, this sudden threat also made her burst out in anger. She notes how she does not know who Artan is anymore. Now, she cannot look at him as the same man she once fell in love with. In her emotional state, she mentions how she loved him, but he was never present when she needed him. He betrayed her with another woman and did not make amends as he should have. They believe it is too late for them to heal those wounds. 

The radio news start villainising Artan based on his racial identity. Once they reach the ferry, Artan sees the police officers circling their car with arms. He offers his phone to Lukas for him to speak with his son. Lukas calls Teo and wishes him on his birthday. Even if it is too early for Teo, Lukas manages to speak a word or two with him after what seems like ages. By the end of it, Lukas gets emotional. Artan requests him to get him a cup of coffee and leave him and Louise alone to talk. Lukas ensures that Louise is okay with this and leaves. 

In the end, Artan and Louise have a heartfelt dialogue about their life past this incident and how it will shape their future. She apologizes for not coming to the café as they had planned to meet. While they may never be together again, she offers him a chance to stay in touch with Cassandra. He gets emotional and hands over his gun to Louise. She drops it from the window next to him. Once he gets out of the car, the police immediately arrest him. So, he does not manage to flee the country. But he leaves with a smile on his face. 

Read More: Everything Coming to Netflix in September 2023

A Day and a Half (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Trailer

A Day and a Half (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Links: IMDb
A Day and a Half (2023) ‘Netflix’ Movie Cast: Fares Fares, Alexej Manvelov, Alma Pöysti
Where to watch A Day and a Half

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