Film Rec: It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

It's Such a Beautiful Day
It’s Such a Beautiful Day is an animated film by writer/director Don Hertzfeldt, whom you might know as the guy behind the cult animated short “Rejected.” This is Hertzfeldt’s first feature-length film, though it’s actually a combination of three associated shorts. All three chapters of the film center on a man named Bill, whose life, body and mind are coming apart.

Bill’s story has Hertzfeldt’s DNA all over it: dark and absurdist humor, minimalist presentation, and a storytelling style that collapses in on itself to convey a mental breakdown. What’s really amazing is how Hertzfeldt uses his familiar bag of tricks to bring life to such a poignant, lyrical and beautifully bleak story as this one.

Three Reasons to Watch: 

  • Surreal Visuals: Hertzfeldt’s signature line drawings are intentionally crude, which somehow seems perfect for the dreamlike nature of the story. But it’s not all just stick figures. The film often combines or contrasts animation with photographs and film to give certain scenes a special resonance. As Bill’s mind fades, the visuals manage to portray the decay in a number of inventive ways.
  • Unique Plotting: The story is told in a series of vignettes describing what Bill is thinking or doing or feeling. They’re not all connected, and they don’t always progress in order. However, these vignettes all manage to come together like a mosaic into a surprisingly deep and affecting story about love, insecurity, illness and mortality. It’s an interesting ride.
  • The Narration: The story is told through Herzfeldt’s narration, which takes the place of any dialogue between characters. His soft and matter-of-fact delivery almost has the quality of a lullaby, but the amount of strange and specific detail loaded into the narration sometimes makes it seem closer to a fever dream. In a good way.

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You About:

  • The Weirdness: By now you should have realized that this is not a normal movie for casual viewing. Everything from the format to the style to the subject matter makes this a strange and challenging experience. If you’re up for something different, and don’t mind getting your brain a little twisted, then I highly recommend it.
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