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Everything Will Be OK (2006)

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Score: 9/10

Genre: Comedy and Short Running Time: 17 min.

Release Date: October 7th, 2006 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Don Hertzfeldt Actors: Don Hertzfeldt

F

rom giant fish heads to deformed birds to manatees attacking cities, the bizarre and the unexplainable all frequent the films of Don Hertzfeldt. In his most artistic and abstract film, “Everything Will Be OK,” he channels his fevered genius into the story of Bill, a man lost in the exasperation of existence. The project won the Sundance Film Festival’s Short Filmmaking Award, among numerous other recognitions, proving that his peculiar style, sensibilities, and motifs transcend the simple, two-dimensional, even vulgar characterizations onscreen.

The film is narrated completely by Bill, a lonely and exhausted man who walks through a parking lot, ponders various remembrances, and chats with neighbors, grocery store clerks, and his ex-girlfriend. Primarily, he contemplates his chaotic dreams and the hallucinations he kids himself he doesn’t have. Chronicling several days in his life, from his preoccupation with death to his recovery in a hospital, “Everything Will Be OK” movingly promises just that.

The use of opera music seems to magically transform any scene it’s applied to into a more poignant and thought-provoking piece. Hertzfeldt does this with masterly care, making the most awkward and dissonant moments more dramatic and powerful. From Bill gazing at a torn plastic bag flapping in the breeze on the end of a broken pole, to quietly sucking blood from the corner of a sore in his mouth, the calming sounds of operatic voices establish pauses to take in his abstruse visions and actions and perceive them as art. But is it really art?

Occasionally, or perhaps frequently, the pictures and voices that narrate the few days in Bill’s life are so disjointed, so appallingly random, and most of all shockingly off-putting that the average moviegoer might not find the meaning behind it all. And maybe this is what Hertzfeldt wanted. Regardless of the obscured themes and purposefully hectic imagery, humor is always prevalent in “Everything Will Be OK.” Whether or not that humor is appealing is dependent on how much laughter viewers can derive from the morbidity of death, the dourness of mental sickness, and the monotony of the mundane. The sporadic nature of his jokes, from Bill dreaming of throwing dead bodies out of a tiny boat, to his experiencing the sudden inability to control his bladder, is oftentimes enough to jolt a giggle from the audience. At other times, the dire seriousness of attacking his mother or having his own thoughts drowned out by stinging voices in his mind are enough to reattach witnesses to the cold realities of a delusional life.

The animation on display is the kind that wobbles and wiggles, due to the individual drawings not completely lining up. The character designs themselves are ridiculously simple, practically to the point of stick figures, but this gives the artist time to concentrate on the creative aspects of his animation. Using black and white masks to reveal only portions of the screen, mostly off-centered or with multiple windows of activities occurring simultaneously, “Everything Will Be OK” unfolds at a fast pace and manifests much of the confusion Bill experiences in a comparably chaotic fashion. The simplicity of the illustrations aids the idea that the story is universally approachable, although not necessarily universally coherent.

Commenting on the themes of redundancy, indifference, existentialism, mortality, mental deterioration, and the sameness of anticipated routines, Bill’s adventures, which cover seemingly unadventurous events, see him journey from one typical day through to the brink of extinction – and then back again to the tedium he may never fully grasp. The final sequence, in which he plainly rides a bus in the rain, once again slows with the introduction of serene opera voices. It leaves viewers, whether successfully assimilating his journey or not, with an inexplicably grand sense of satisfaction.

– Mike Massie

 



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