There is perhaps no experience more hopeless than searching through the abyss of Netflix selec-tions, unable to find your next movie to watch. I feel your pain. That is why, rather than publishing reviews of a movie that is currently in theaters, I will highlight a hidden gem of Netflix. I believe that, as one of the College’s most accomplished procrastinators, I am quite qualified to guide you through the depths of Netflix. In this inaugural feature, my “Netflix Pick of the Week” is Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day.
Any recommendation of this movie should open with a disclaimer: It’s kind of a weird film. While it technically falls under the animated genre, its target audience is certainly adults, and it lacks the extravagant effects that you see in most animated movies today. In fact, the entirety of the movie is comprised of stick figure drawings and a single narrator. The story centers around a middle-aged man named Bill as he attempts to cope with an unnamed disease that appears similar to Alzheimer’s. Originally a trilogy of three short films edited to create one continuous movie, It’s Such a Beautiful Day takes you inside the head of an ordinary and lonely man losing his mind as he faces the end of his life.
What makes this film so remarkable is the way it deals with the experiences that all humans share but don’t like to think about: unfulfilled dreams, loss, death. Rather than focusing on the bleakness of these things, the film finds beauty in them and seeks to explore why these horrible experiences are ultimately at the core of the human experience. As you may be able to surmise by now, this isn’t the kind of movie you should choose when you’re looking for a light and relaxing flick. Beneath its simple animation lie deep philosophical musings. Despite a runtime of just over an hour, it is a complete cinematic experience that will remain with you well after its conclusion. The film’s impact, however, is far more uplifting than its subject matter would suggest. Some of this is due to the dark humor throughout the film: Hertzfeldt was previously known for more humorous and outrageous short videos such as Rejected. But the main reason why the film leaves the viewer more inspired than filled with existential angst is that the apparently depressing philosophical questions actually yield uplifting answers. While the film does highlight how selfish humans can be, oblivious that others around us feel the same things we do, it also shows that this egocentric viewpoint can change. Bill lives a mundane life, but he is so relatable because his concerns, thoughts and fears are things that we have all experienced.
It’s Such a Beautiful Day’s greatest quality, however, is the way it handles mortality. The incredible ending to this film puts forth an argument that death is not only something that we may be able to accept, but also that dying is the single greatest ability that we have as humans. The film comes to a profoundly creative and stunningly beautiful conclusion that gives the viewer a sense of peace – an incredible accomplishment for a movie that was created by one man, drawing stick figures at his desk. While It’s Such a Beautiful Day’s greatest accomplishment is tackling the subject of mortality, Hertzfeldt offers his opinions not just on life’s ending, but on how to find meaning before its end. This isn’t a film for everyone, as it feels less like a movie and more like a piece of modern art at times, but for those of you desperately searching for something to watch this week on Netflix, this one is certainly worth a look.