IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY (Don Hertzfeldt, 2012)
techniques yield complex results in Don Hertzfeldt’s hand-drawn
animated and mixed media epic IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY. The feature
film is comprised of three shorts (EVERYTHING WILL BE OK, I AM SO PROUD
OF YOU, and IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY) in which Bill, a stick figure
everyman, wrestles with existential despair, health problems, and a
family history of mental illness.
IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY’s simple surface and droll humor is a
philosophical core as dense as any film’s. Hertzfeldt’s trenchant
examination of the human condition cuts to the essence of what keeps
people awake at nights and occupies our minds in those moments when the
noise and distractions of everyday life are quieted. Bill frets over
germs in the produce aisle and awkward social interactions. He also
dwells on what could be a wasted life and the death that will all too
quickly end it at some unknown point.
Bill expends untold neurotic energy on the things he can’t control,
IT’S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY also acknowledges the exquisite blessings
surrounding us that often go unnoticed until circumstances force
appreciation for even the tiniest marvel. As the put-upon protagonist
gains compassion for the people in his past and the answer to the
meaning of life, Hertzfeldt transforms sorrow and existential agitation
into triumphant acceptance of life in its entirety, including its
culmination. To put it in the film’s comedically askew terms, what’s
the use in worrying about contracting a fatal disease when there’s
always the chance of getting run over by a train.
than emphasizing a nihilistic streak, the bittersweet tone of IT’S SUCH
A BEAUTIFUL DAY comforts with the assurance that everyone shares these
fears and doubts. The stripped-down style enhances identification with
Bill and permits subtle expressiveness to be interpreted in his
reactions. Hertzfeldt’s acerbically funny and deeply moving
experimental film does a lot with a little.