‘Life in a Day 2020’ Review: A Video Diary of a Difficult Year


Will we ever be ready to remember 2020? The masks. The quarantines. Racial injustice. So much death.

Compiled from video footage captured by people around the world on July 25th last year, “Life in a Day” is a well-intentioned but unnecessary crowdsourced documentary, a companion piece to a 2011 version of the same name that believes we are I’m ready.

The film has an obvious beginning: with a symphony of the birth of a child. Most of the time, however, the airy snippets capture everyday things that encompass a variety of human experiences and multicultural behavior, juxtaposing beauty and darkness, birth and death. It’s a call to empathy with some really moving moments. What this video portrait doesn’t do is focus enough on its subjects to allow for a real investment in their life.

Although the participants’ experiences are unique, their clips are edited into montages to create a sense of the interrelational connection between pandemic and era. Some motifs are given longer screen time, the narratives of which are put together in this patchwork of life. The result is a painstakingly formatted stream of categorized segments that might as well fall into hashtag classifications: environmental protection, zoom life, class 2020, love is love and you weren’t the only one cooking all the time.

The film shows that The director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland”) and the producer Ridley Scott received 324,000 videos from 192 countries for this project. That’s a lot of videos. And yet, amidst marches by the Black Lives Matter and doctors in Hazmat suits, the filmmakers devote a lot of time to a man chasing Class 1 trains on all seven railroad lines. Spoiler alert – he does whatever he wants (the film assumes you understand why this is an accomplishment). And honestly good for this guy. I know that his striving should be a picturesque breathing space. But over and over again in a film about 2020? What if a young black woman mourns the deaths of two of her brothers who died in police custody? I want her story.

“Living in a Day” is supposed to be a time capsule in a time of great racial segregation and pandemic. But since the commemoration period is still fresh, the film comes about 10 years early. As it stands, it didn’t capture anything that 90 minutes of TikTok surfing can’t do.

Life in a day 2020
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch it on YouTube.



Robert Dunfee