one of the reasons i love the 80s & 90s d-t-v era is that, before the internet age, those movies are not talked to death and less visible. there’s almost a speakeasy type feeling when you pick one of them from the video store and experience it at home, usually by
myyourself. the excitement comes not so much from whether the film will be good or not but what the movie will be able to pull off, or what the filmmaker would put in it. these days when even d-t-v comes with a certain amount of publicity, internet chatter, in addition to the fad of so-bad-it’s-good cult, d-t-v sequels to theatrical releases, and the bad movies on purpose, it’s harder to feel like you have discovered a gem(deadfall, i shot a man in vegas, and god spoke) in private. i guess netflix instant, thanks to studios delay, becomes such source for formerly unknown films. (no, redbox doesn’t count since they only have somewhat major releases week after week. i don’t trust any company that doesn’t carry birdemic). accessibility aside, i wouldn’t have known about in a day were it not for netflix instant.
made in 2006 but wasn’t available until 2010, in a day(written and directed by american actor evan richards) is a romantic comedy about two (seemingly) strangers who decided to spend a whole day together in london. since i didn’t know anything about it beforehand(and netflix plot summaries are not to be trusted), i didn’t quite know what to expect, other than the guy and the girl(both brits: finlay robertson from numerous popular brit tv series, lorraine pilkington from the boxer, human traffic, monarch of the glen) spend the whole day together. this works mostly to the film’s advantage. there’s a scene in a restaurant where i actually thought the film might be going in a different direction, instead of me finally being comfortable enough to label it romantic comedy. another advantage to the film is that both of these actors(he looks like the british version of jim from the american version of the british office) are unknown to me, therefore it doesn’t come with the formulaic expectations you get from a stuttering hugh grant or a king; or a fancy schmancy julia roberts. major stars usually add their own formulars to the equation which in turn, drag the movie down.
that sense of discovery is important so i won’t describe anything further. comparison to before sunrise/sunset is also inevitable. i will say that richard linklater is more confident in his characters that they do nothing but talk while in a day seems to be torn between a character study and a romantic comedy. the movie doesn’t seem confident enough that it creates situations after situations for the characters to be in. there’s also a confrontation scene in a pub that works tremendously because of that sense of the unknown discovery. this scene may also be a benefit of the screenplay since we know more about one character than the other.
i don’t know what kind of a world we live in that every piece of crap romcom with jennifer aniston, gerard butler, katherine heigl(whose respective best movies are office space, to be determined, and under siege 2: dark territory)and other tv-film wannabes vehicles get to be in theaters while something like this is d-t-v.
the film also works in a small, sneaky way. at no point do you feel these two characters are unlikable or pretentious or involve in hipster douchery(500 days of summer, garden state). the low budget sets actually works in its favor. the actors are likable and the characters realistic(hey she has friends and a mundane(read: real) job and has ambitions), unlike most romcom. while the screenplay doesn’t have any memorable lines, it is just good enough about two characters in such situation. i also have mixed feeling about the climax that is either arbitrary or providing emotional depth. it also spares us of the meet cute and misunderstood situations and try painfully to keep-the-couple-apart-until-the-end-of-the-movie syndrome(yes i’m looking at you notting hill). if you’ve seen both before sunrise and sunset and sick of the major studio romcoms, i would certainly recommend in a day.
in a day is currently available on netflix instant.