Film Reviews and Discussion.
Dir: Don Hertzfeldt
Duration: 62 minutes
Wasted talent and wasted time on unnecessarily grim animation feature where the techniques and execution of the animation are the only real draw.
Don Hertzfeldt has a flair and talent in crafting images that are arresting in their simplicity and also engaging in their unique brusque complexity. When he gets it right, it is a thing to behold. When he doesn’t, we get this instead.
What he excels in with It’s Such A Beautiful Day is a Curate’s Egg that is more failure than success. Merged from three separate chapters from previous exercises, entitled, Everything Will Be Okay, I Am So Proud Of You and It’s Such A Beautiful Day, this is an hour spent trawling through the psyche of the character called Bill. Bill’s experiences are aided with the help of a narrator (Hertzfeldt himself) who gazes on Bill’s experiences with what could only be described as complete insouciance.
A few words and phrases spring to mind; relentlessly misanthropic. Excessively surreal. Wilfully obtuse. Cruel.
The merest input of compassion could have rendered this fragmented essay on the human psyche as a stunning insight into what it is to live, love and seek meaning. Instead, it fails. It ostracises itself from any audience identification by throwing last minute curveballs in the most irritating fashion. Humour (both light and dark) and serious subject matter can be a wonderful marriage. It can often make both facets stronger. However, that is not the case here. These stern and damning words fall as a result of the utter disappointment in what could have been great. In some ways, it would be a worse crime to be mediocre. This is not that. Critics are fawning over themselves to praise this work. It is clear that this review is out of step with the prevailing opinion. However, and here’s the rub; sometimes, someone needs to step up and point out that the duck quacking in the room is, in actual fact, a duck.
This film certainly does not reach the highs of the previous short film outing, The Meaning Of Life (2005). In execution, it allies itself more in line with the inconsistent hit-and-miss qualities of Rejected (2000); a work that also had moments of wonderment clouded and ruined by the creator’s misjudgement.
The narrative is flimsy and the philosophy banal and unoriginal. Ultimately, the detached and blasé narration is so arrogantly dispatched that the audience is left in a hostile mass, and said cipher is a tool for ensuring that you could not care less what Bill thinks or what happens to him. The only possible way that this feature could be deemed as life-affirming is in the sense that you are not the character in question (then again, maybe that’s the point). Thank the Lord for that. The overriding sense is that of a writer and animator who relishes in challenging his audience. This can be a good thing, but in this instance, it has created a tortuous viewing experience that is more gruelling than Bill’s own bewilderment. Pass.
Here is a trailer, of sorts, for It’s Such A Beautiful Day: