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ROME FILM FESTIVAL Extra / Netherlands

Life in One Day: Our Hell is time

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Life in One Day: Our Hell is time

Benny and Gini are born, go to school and fall in love, in a few hours. Their world is just like ours, except that life lasts only one day, in the suitably entitled Life in One Day [+see also:
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. The second feature by Holland’s Mark de Cloe screens in the Extra sidebar of the Rome Film Festival (where the project was presented at the first New Cinema Network).

People are born and die (and perhaps fulfil their dream of seeing dawn) in 24, brief hours. All experiences are unique, done for the first and last time, each moment is unrepeatable. Including sex, which serves just to guarantee the continuity of the race. Because after having consummated, desire decreases (well, that happens in our world too).

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Things are different, however, for Benny and Gini. They love each other too much for it to end there. It is better to commit murder and go to Hell where, according to the catechizer, the days are (horrors!) endlessly repeated and the same.

Hell, for those who don’t get it, is Time as we know it. But the punishment for the couple (the algid Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen and Lois Dols de Jong) is much more painful than the death sentence they are given in court (in a few minutes, because even the judges’ hours are numbered). When they pass into this valley of tears, the two lovers find themselves alone, divided.

Like them, the perspective is also divided: a split screen shows us the separate lives of Benny and Gini, who as they wait to see one another spend their days, months, years as best as they can. He who immediately loved sex becomes a successful gigolo, whereas she is less fearless and finds a boyfriend but thinks only of her great love. Will they find each other again or are the two halves destined for incompleteness (as in the myth by Plato that de Cloe cites as one of his inspirations)?

Based on a novel by A.F.Th van der Heijden, Life in One Day is most intriguing when it describes a world of “quotidian science fiction,” in which the rule is to seize the day. It is less convincing when the action moves to (and is repeated in) Hell, where Benny’s erotic evolution suffocates Gini’s psychological development.

This because the script, written by the director, betrays the spirit of the writer, who in the hereafter had no place for Gini. Instead, de Cloe relies on pulling off the story mostly through the visuals, with which Jasper Wolf’s photography and Marc Bechtold’s editing infuse the split screen.

Produced by Dutch Mountain Movies (which also handles world sales) and NPS, the film won the Movie Squad Junior Award at the latest Nederlands Film Festival.

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(Translated from Italian)

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