Life In A Day - Online Review

'You'll see things that you won't be happy about and others that are positively euphoric. Macdonald has made a representation of your own 'life in a day' and all of the emotions you experience during it'

As a concept, Life In A Day is hard to beat; encourage people all across the globe to record one day in their life using any device they have to hand. Send out devices to people in faraway corners of the world. Upload the footage to YouTube. Edit it all together to form this fascinating feature which is the result of eighty-thousand clips and more than four-thousand five-hundred hours of footage.

Director Kevin Macdonald must have realised the size of the task early on in proceedings. Whilst it's possible to edit together some footage of universal 'truths' (getting up and going to the toilet for example) other instances are harder to include in a coherent narrative. And so we get small, thirty-second or so mini-narratives. A man who's travelling the world on a pedal bike. A young girl who's part of a piece of performance art. A family so poor they live in a graveyard. Whilst these 'clips' don't necessary tell a full story (indeed, some could be trailers for lengthier pieces) they do gel together to give a snapshot of how average people spent one single day in 2010.

The word 'people' in that sentence is really the key. People are interesting and how we relate to them even more interesting. Some individuals in Life In A Day seemed pretentious, others melodramatic, others incredibly brave, others inherently annoying. The reaction to the film (and to the people) will be different for each viewer - a given with any film - but even more so with Macdonald's. He's made a film which is reminiscent of your day, whoever you are. You'll see things that you won't be happy about and others that are positively euphoric. Macdonald has made a representation of your own 'life in a day' and all of the emotions you experience during it.

That isn't to say that his multi-narrative doesn't have problems. There is bias towards certain stories and footage which doesn't seem to say anything at all but, rather, is there for artistic purposes. Whilst landscapes may look beautiful they don't seem to add much and too much time is spent on these none-narratives. This, after all, is an anthropological project, not one with its routes in geography or nature documentary.

Life In A Day could also perhaps be open to the type of criticism which labels it as an art exhibition, rather than as a theatrical event. There's perhaps some mileage in that but those that label it as such are missing the point. This is a documentary about how we see the world and how the world sees us and arguably the most inspiring thing about that fact is that there's art worthy of an art exhibition in it.




Life In A Day was showing online as part of its premiere at The Sundance Film Festival. A full release will follow later this year.

Look further...

The film has its own YouTube channel where footage included and rejected from the final cut can be viewed alongside clips of the film makers and further behind-the-scenes footage.



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