Released: 27th January 2011
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
Life in a Day sets out to be a film unlike any other. Using YouTube as its platform, the ‘Life in a Day’ project asked people all over the world to film a part, or the whole of one day in their lives. July 24th 2010 was picked and users were asked to upload their footage within 24 hours of filming it.
With thousands of hours to choose from, the film is vastly edited. Beginning at around 12am on July 24thand lasting until midnight the same day, its follows people’s lives and what their days consist of- from brushing their teeth and using the toilet to dealing with cancer and living in a war torn country.
The film has gained a large amount of momentum since premiering on YouTube and with Ridley Scott adding his name to the melting pot as executive producer the film certainly seemed an interesting proposition.
The first thing you will notice about the film is the chopping and changing from clip to clip. The editing ISsuperb, however due to the variation in video quality, depending on the person who uploaded that particular clip; it is this jump in quality from one clip to another that unsettles the viewer. After eventually coming to terms with the unusual presentation you are able to appreciate the concept a little better.
As mentioned above we are shown a timeline that spans over the course of one day. There is no storyline; it is merely a video log of both the trivial and serious events that are parts of the contributor’s everyday lives. With this in mind as the film was being promoted I was led to believe that we would be witness to the extraordinary events that the filmmaker believes we should all see. This is not the case. The clips are so short and change so often, that you are unable to develop any kind of connection with the people involved and therefore the films overall meaning is lost. Jumping from a small Indonesian boy
who shines shoes for a living, to a single father living in China presents the opportunity to create a meaningful feature, but with no development it becomes nothing more than a mish-mash of Comic Relief adverts.
I attempted to count the number of clips used, but stopped around 60, in reality there are around 200-250. So it’s not really an advert for the film when say there are probably about 10 that made an impression on me. Several clips are enjoyable for being quite comical and the same again for being nice in a slightly more emotional way. However, there are two scenes which I found highly disturbing and stressful to watch. I will spare the grotesque details, but suffice to say even though I’m not particularly an animal lover, I would have promptly left the cinema if it hadn’t been for the mere fact I needed to review the film. These scenes were unnecessary to say the least and were merely included for their ‘shock factor’.
One of the reviews on the promotional material for the film included the line ‘A terrific Cinematic experience…an hour and a half of happiness’ I agree that the film was a unique experience in terms of film making. However Life in a Day has to go down as one of the most depressive films I have seen, not just recently, but overall. Happiness is not a word I would use to describe mutilation, poverty, illness and in some cases, death. If there was some underlying message of peace and love then it was certainly disguised well by all the rude people that were too busy dying to be happy.
It wasn’t all bad; it shows us in the UK and the US a different look at other cultures. Especially as 99% of the clips are from elsewhere in the world (I counted 4 from America and one from the UK) the highlights are too few to come close to carrying the film.
The final question that poses itself to me is the rating. The film falls out of the usual boundaries I would use to rate something. There is no script or clever cinematography as it isn’t all intentional. The visuals jump from one star to 9 or 10 at times depending on the clip, though the 9 or 10 rating can only be used to describe a clip of a thunderstorm and a woman skydiving, with nothing but the wind for a soundtrack. The editing deserves praise as they have done well to trawl through the digital mountain of clips to construct a decent days worth of events that aren’t too different in terms of lighting.
However, it isn’t the great spectacle it could have, perhaps even should have been. A great idea in theory, which in reality failed to come off. In truth it comes off more like an extended episode of ‘You’ve Been Framed’ except with only one or two good moments- in fact, just like a normal episode of ‘You’ve been Framed’…
This film is not a happy family film, not by any stretch of the imagination, while one man may think it is the ‘best, day, ever’ I for one, couldn’t wait for it to end.
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