Sometimes it seems like universal access to video and the Internet has resulted in just a lot of amateur porn and wearying narcissism. In an effort to put this technology to better use, producers Tony and Ridley Scott and director Kevin MacDonald asked people around the world via YouTube to record the events of their life on one day, July 24, 2010, answering questions such as “What do you love?” and “What’s in your pocket?” They received some 4500 hours of footage from 80,000 participants, winnowed that down to 500 entries, and edited it all into an hour and a half collage spanning the 24 hour period, from dawn to post-midnight.
Results, as might be expected, vary in quality from the sentimental to the astounding, with some sequences — like one in which a kid begs his father to stop filming him while he’s with his gravely ill, surgically scarred mother, or another in which someone films a wretched Indonesian family living in abject poverty — border on the exploitive. Even a disturbing scene in which a sad-eyed cow is ineptly slaughtered seems intended for shock value because there is no follow-up.
Best are some of the submissions that form a kind of narrative recurring throughout the film, like that of that of a dryly witty Korean man bicycling around the world. I’d rather see a film that had more about that guy’s life than a slick mishmash of exotica, minutia, and airbrushed platitudes (a lot of babies are born, but how can that be if no one has sex?) that tries to sum up the lives of everybody.