A winning monochrome miniature.

[A Perfect Day for Caribou] promises significant things from its young writer-director, who shows more formal nous and rigor than many neophyte directors of comparable U.S. indies.

The men of A Perfect Day for Caribou don't much want to be looked at, not least because they've rarely stood back to take a look at themselves: With good sense and grace, and from an often cautious distance, this assured, soulful film sees them just the same.

Guy Lodge (August 12, 2022)

The Film Verdict

Rutherford, a first time filmmaker, perfectly modulates his film, working a spare, sober miracle of score, silence, and speech. He has super-charged what has to be a very low-budget production with a significant investment in rather high-level writing. And along with his insights into masculinity and family, his major breakthrough here is a deft avoidance of treacly sentimentality. There is no real action here but action isn't the point. Monologue is. Dialogue is. The damage parents and partners do is.

Oris Aigbokhaevbolo (August 7, 2022)


A father and son come together to mull over their failing relationship in this meditative rather inconclusive first feature from US filmmaker Jeff Rutherford. Partly Nebraska, partly Beckett, A Perfect Day is also eye candy: the gleaming black-and-white images of DoP Alfonso Herrera Salcedo, masterfully transferred on a 4:3 format ratio, are a joy to behold.

Meredith Taylor (August 6, 2022)


With A Perfect Day for Caribou, writer/producer/director Jeff Rutherford has crafted a surprisingly powerful and deeply moving portrait of three generations of broken men. This is a film where every piece slots perfectly into place; Alfonso Herrera Salcedo's breathtaking high contrast black and white cinematography paints a landscape so exquisite it could make Ansel Adams blush, editor Melanie Akoka intuitively brings to life the conversational beats to perfection, and of course at the heart of it are the simply extraordinary performances by Berrier and Plummer.

A Perfect Day for Caribou is an oddly sad film, where so much about the experience of watching it seems to silently hinge around themes of containment – contained in space, contained within families, contained within bodies. That it narratively hinges around a breach of that containment in the shape of little Ralph's disappearance is a simple yet effective enough a rupture in the overwhelming sense of containment that defines these men's lives that it allows the necessary shift in their relations to reveal things to each other about themselves and about their lives that they may ordinarily not have been able to do. A masterclass in a film that looks simple but is in fact anything but, A Perfect Day for Caribou is an unmissable highlight of this year's Slamdance festival.

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (January 22, 2023)

Other quotes:

Jeff Rutherford's film reveals an attentive and deeply humanist gaze. His work on words and landscape reveals a formal awareness that constitutes the best guarantee for his future films. A cinema that is intertwined with the deepest layers of the United States' history and best literature, and yet remains an absolutely unique cinematic experience up until the end.

When we selected the film for the Locarno Film Festival, the choice was made unanimously by the artistic direction and the entire artistic committee.

A Perfect Day For Caribou is already a classic of the new American cinema and we are convinced the first in a long series of films that will confirm Jeff Rutherford's talent.

Giona A. Nazzaro, Artistic Director of the Locarno Film Festival

[The] landscapes Rutherford and his cinematographer Alfonso Herrera Salcedo photograph in images are expansive despite the boxy 4:3 frame. The low contrast black-and-white and the barrenness of the terrain create a purgatorial atmosphere; as we watch the estranged father and son trudge across sweeping plains, over rolling hills and canyons, into the depth of a forest, and back again to that godforsaken cemetery, their two figures appear like lost souls roaming an earthly limbo.

Rutherford's debut belongs to a lineage of US independent cinema that includes such milestones as Monte Hellman's The Shooting (1966) and Gus Van Sant's Gerry (2002), as well as foreign implants like Bruno Dumont's Twentynine Palms (2003). Though aesthetically and philosophically disparate, these films all pit humans against the vast American landscape as a means of existential meditation. A Perfect Day for Caribou is a rare hopeful example, contemplating the eternal recurrence of the sins of the father in order to probe the possibility of breaking the chain.

Giovanni Marchini Camia, Film Writer & Locarno Programmer

Official Selections


75th Locarno Film Festival, Concorso Cineasti del presente

67th Cork International Film Festival


29th Slamdance Film Festival

49th Brussels Independent Film Festival, Winner: Best Narrative Feature Film

32nd Florida Film Festival, Special Jury Award for Singularity of Vision