Tuesday 21 May 2024

Ani-MAY-tion: It's Such A Beautiful Day (2012)

I have seen some work from animator Don Hertzfeldt before, and it was quite a treat. Hertzfeldt has a way of delivering material that views the world around us through a witty and macabre lens while highlighting the absurdity of what we often go through every day of our lives.

This feature, made up of three excellent shorts edited together, takes us on a journey with a main character named Bill. Bill has everyday thoughts and anxieties that plague us all, but he also has things going on around him that seem ridiculous and unbelievable. Or do they just seem that way because we are not used to being able to delve deep into the mind of anyone around us.

Blending styles to turn what initially seems like crude animation into genuinely impressive art, Hertzfeldt also provides a crucial narration, his voice perfectly complementing the bittersweet journey of darkness and light that viewers get to experience. Bill may be a fairly nondescript and clumsy figure, but he is also a stand-in for all of us. You may not think it, but there will be one or two moments of recognition here for most people.

It’s hard to write a full and expansive review of such a work, especially when I don’t want to regurgitate the facts about how Hertzfeldt actually created his films (you can find those all over the internet, and I encourage you to do so), but it deserves to have a lot of praise. I watched this because someone reminded me that it existed, and I am now reminding others that it is out there. Don’t miss out.

The only other thing I have to say here, because I somehow worry that I have already both said too much and yet not enough, is a spoiler-free thought about the ending of the film. I never thought I would care so much about what is basically a very loose sketch of a human being, and I certainly didn’t expect this film to take me through the full range of emotions that I experienced. Not only is the ending a glorious surprise that is surprisingly glorious, it’s genuinely beautiful and moving in a way that rivals some of the most iconic moments in all of cinema.

Good job, Bill. Bloody good job. Don could not have picked a better “leading man”.


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