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September 15, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST
Don Hertzfeldt must be a wizard. There is no way he could craft drawings of stick figures into a feature-length film of such stunning depth without the assistance of some type of magic. In It’s Such a Beautiful Day, the cult favorite animator has used his unconstrained medium to craft a unique view of a world shaded by mental illness. The sense of dread and cruel cosmic irony behind the absurdist comedy and the cartoonish violence of his earlier shorts (Rejected, Billy’s Balloon) has been brought to the forefront in this film.
The movie tells the story of a man named Billy, who navigates the world while dealing with memory loss due to a recent medical condition. Layers are gradually pulled back, and we see that things are much more complicated than they seemed at first.
The film is made up of three connected shorts. Two were previously released, and the other is an unrelated opening short. Hertzfeldt’s simplistic style can be tiring, but this is mostly alleviated by plentiful surreal one-liners and heavy doses of experimental animation peppered throughout. Multiple points of view, soundtracks falling out of sync and tragic comedy mesh to keep things fresh.
This one is an easy candidate for the very short list of animated films that are bound to leave you questioning the meaning of your existence once you’ve left the theater. It’s a veritable stick figure Tree of Life.