If you’re familiar with the works of Don Hertzfeldt, then you know what to expect from his first feature film. That is to say, you expect that anything is possible in the absurd world he creates. The absurdist nature of Hertzfeldt’s pieces means that watching an hour of what might initially be described as visual insanity could be too much to handle. Yet despite the moments of overstimulation, It’s Such a Beautiful Day provides a stunning tale that will definitely make you laugh and make you cry.
The film follows the story of Bill, a man who seems to live an ordinary life until his health deteriorates. He begins to experience memory problems and extreme hallucinations. Essentially, the only dialogue is from the narrator, but the narrator’s story itself is flavoured by what is essentially Bill’s consciousness: straight-forward and yet clearly there’s something wrong. What we experience can be described as a complete spectrum of emotions. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s terrifying, and most of all it’s beautiful. Very rarely does animation; especially with what could be viewed as very simplistic animation, enstill such raw emotion from the audience. It can come across as too bizarre to some people, but Bill’s hallucinations on screen give insight to what our protagonist is actually experiencing, rather than simply seeing a man slowly wither and die. Mixed in with in a cavalcade of real-world special effects and these simple stick figures feel as real as you and me.
The film was originally three separate shorts, and as I mentioned earlier seeing them all at once is a bit overwhelming. If you’re not familiar with Hertzfeldt’s works then it will definitely be jarring to watch an hour of what can simply described as absurdist animation. But in his masterful use of traditional animation and live action footage, we are brought into a world that feels both cartoony and vividly realistic. You feel sorry for the stick figures on screen as simply says “I’m in pain” over and over again. Combine that with Hertzfeldt’s trademark black humour and you have what could possibly considered to be one of the most unique animated films ever made. It a genre oversaturated with computer-animated swill aimed solely at children, It’s Such a Beautiful Day is an example of what animation has the potential to become. By the end you’ve gone through such a range of emotions that you ultimately simply feel at peace. You’re saying that was funniest thing you’ve ever seen, but neither are you sobbing for the sorrow anguish you see with the laughs. You sit watching the credits roll and think calmly, it’s such a beautiful day.