Life In A Day (2021) Sundance Review: (Written by Daniel Azbel)
We're covering the 2021 Sundance Film Festival! This is one of many capsule reviews, interviews and other pieces that will be published here during and after the event. Check out our social media to be kept in the loop!
Two sequels appear at this year's Sundance, and one of them isn't your typical one. Life in a Day 2020 carries on the tradition started by the 2010 film of the same name. Director Kevin MacDonald, of The Last King Of Scotland fame, partnered with the iconic Ridley Scott back in 2010 to make a time capsule from that year. It showcased what it was like to live on July 24th, 2010 through various crowdsourced clips. That film was good, and certainly a cool experiment, but their follow-up, which takes on the same format but changes the day to July 25th, 2010 is spectacular. It takes the basic foundation of that original film and advances so many techniques to stand out as a truly visceral cinematic experience.
It's hard to review this like any ordinary documentary, as you'd expect because it isn't one. It really plays around with structure in a way that's so bold and admirable. The way that this is cut together is astounding and does such a brilliant job at creating a flow that never feels choppy or compilation. No segment overstays it's welcome, and the way they've been ordered and pieced together replicates the collective hardships we experienced last year with such tenderness. At the same time, the film never becomes a pandemic story - which helps it retain its poignancy and truly optimistic atmosphere.
The one detail that really lets this stand out, however, is the way it separates itself from the original, while still embracing the impact it had. At no point does this feel like a gimmick, or an individual piece of a larger product. These bits are tied together in a way that really immerses the viewer into a day they can't experience again. In addition, the select participants from 2010 that they bring back here bring such a heart and soul to this. This is especially emphasized in the way it allows audiences to reflect on how they've changed since the first film was released.
Life in a Day 2020 is truly essential viewing for everyone. It's the type of universal storytelling that will guarantee to impact all audiences, no matter the lens they view it from. The way it stands on its own and its innovative structure - never-mind the often awe-inspiring footage used is something that no other 2020 produced documentary will capture. Writing a review can't really do this film justice, and only the life-assuring experience that comes with viewing it can articulate the mark it'll have on you.
Life in a Day 2020 gets a 4.5/5!
We sincerely thank the team over at YouTube Originals for granting us screener access to the film prior to its Sundance premiere! We certainly recommend you check it out when it releases for free on YouTube on Saturday, February 6th, or at its second Sundance screening on Wednesday, February 3rd.