Life In A Day (12A)

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Kevin Macdonald

The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/06/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Ambitiously conceived and skilfully edited, this is an impressive achievement on several levels that's by turns moving, funny and awe-inspiring, though it's also a little too manipulative and over-produced in places.

What's it all about?
Directed (or rather, assembled) by Kevin Macdonald and produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, Life in a Day is comprised of footage shot and submitted by YouTube users all over the world on 24th July 2010. Edited so that it documents a single day more or less chronologically, the film begins with sunrise and montages of early risers, bathroom routines and so on and eventually encompasses births, deaths (technically, anyway), marriages, sexuality and all manner of human experience, from the mundane (people wordlessly making breakfast) to the extraordinary (an astonishing, truly beautiful sky-diving sequence).

In addition, various people are vox-popped with questions such as What are you afraid of?, Who or what do you love the most? and What's in your handbag/pocket?

The Good
The scale of the project is staggering: the filmmakers were sent some 80,000 videos, totalling around 4,500 hours of footage, which they have boiled down to just 95 minutes. Needless to say, there are several highlights and numerous moments that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema, in particular the sky-diving scene and a lovely sequence of a little Italian girl climbing a human pyramid with a camera mounted on her helmet.

With such a wealth of material, it's no wonder that the film evokes different emotions at every turn: for example, a sequence involving a woman having a scheduled webchat “date” with her soldier boyfriend in Afghanistan is extremely moving, while a segment involving a clearly pissed off wife and her pretentious husband (he's trying to make a pompous speech for the camera, she's telling him to shut up) is simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny and quietly sad.

The Bad
One problem is that the film has had some of its thunder stolen by Christian Marclay's The Clock (a 24 hour film comprised of clips from movies and TV shows, with each clip corresponding to actual time), particularly the way in which it edits together montages of activities to create moods and so on. Similarly, it's rather over-produced in places, with a heavily manipulative score.

On top of that, it's frustrating that the different countries aren't identified onscreen at any point and there's also a vaguely uneasy sense when the film includes footage of a national tragedy (at the Love Parade in Germany), because it feels uncomfortably like ticking off “death.”

Worth seeing?
Life in a Day is an impressively assembled film that's worth seeing for the sheer scale of the achievement.

Film Trailer

Life In A Day (12A)
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Content updated: 19/09/2018 17:54

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