Another Day of Life
Following Angola’s freedom from Portuguese colonialisation in November 1975, the country erupted into civil war. With Cuba, South Africa, the USA and Russia supporting different sides, the conflict became the new battleground for the Cold War. It’s during this tumultuous time Polish reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski (Miroslaw Haniszewski) travels across the country to the frontline, a three-month journey captured in stunningly animated docu-drama Another Day of Life, adapted from Kapuscinski’s memoirs of the same name. Blending live-action with animation and interlaced with interviews with surviving key players and newsreel footage, the film brings history to life in a haunting fashion. Despite its intriguing subject matter and eye-catching aesthetics, however, the movie is hardly ever more than lacklustre.
The most notable accomplishment by the filmmakers is the animation, which is simply jaw-droppingly beautiful. Visually striking in it’s graphic novel style, the animated sections that make up the bulk of the runtime are rich in both detail and style. Using deep reds and surrealist imagery, the presentation lends itself perfectly to exploring Kapuscinski’s state of mind as his experiences alter his worldview. Moreover, the implementation of realistic lighting effects is an outstanding accomplishment in its own right. A downside of these stylistic choices is that character models and animations veer a little too close to the uncanny valley, specifically when characters are standing still. Though not enough to detract from the aesthetic achievements, they’re frequent enough to become noticeably distracting.
While the visual presentation of the animation is incredible, the vocal performances, on the other hand, aren’t so much. In fact, some performances are downright awful. Though most of these blunders are visible in small bit parts, a stranger choice is that the reporter is often played more as a brooding detective from a film noir than someone in a warzone; a choice that distances viewers from the emotional core.
Though a commendable effort by the filmmakers to retell one man’s experience of his time on the frontline of history, events are arguably too oversimplified and condensed for the film to make the impact it should. By giving influential characters only minutes of screen time, there’s just not enough time to familiarise ourselves with them to become invested, lessening the intended effect. All the pieces are present to make Another Day of Life something truly special, they just don’t connect together well enough.
Another Day of Life does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Another Day of Life here: