Review: If July 25 went by too fast for you, ‘Life in a Day 2020’ relives the highs and lows

An empty stadium in Taiwan in the documentary "Life in a Day 2020."

What a difference a decade makes.

When director Kevin Macdonald was mapping out plans early last year for the followup to his crowdsourced 2011 documentary, “Life in a Day,” he likely hadn’t envisioned the grip the pandemic would still be having on the world by the time July 25 rolled around.

But the specter of COVID-19 hangs heavily over the compellingly composed footage culled from the 324,000 home video submissions from 192 countries to produce “Life in a Day 2020.”

Kicking off with a wide-reaching montage of live births, the documentary proceeds to illustrate the state of the planet ushering in those fresh arrivals — one in which the letters PPE and BLM would rise to global prominence.

Images of empty passenger trains, abandoned playgrounds and vacant stadiums fill the screen against the soul-soothing strains of Harry Gregson-Williams’ plaintive score, as socially-distanced graduations and video call weddings attempt to simulate business as usual.

As thrill-seeking YouTubers endeavor to break the monotony, Macdonald homes in on protestors gathering the world over, decrying the murder of George Floyd, and also stitches together another common thread — the deep isolation and loneliness experienced by many of the film’s contributors who share a universal fear of passing through life unnoticed.

Even as the concept of crowdsourcing isn’t as novel as it was at the time of the film’s predecessor and the 90-minute running time can feel unnecessarily expansive given the repetition of those pandemic-related sequences, “Life in a Day 2020” nevertheless serves as a telling time capsule. The world has never felt so compact.


‘Life in a Day 2020’

Not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Playing: Available Feb. 6 on YouTube