Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens tonight, Monday, January 11:
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AMERICA
July 4, 2017, as experienced across the country.
Coordinating shoots in each US state, plus Puerto Rico, director Jared Leto takes an approach similar to Jeff Deutchman’s two election docs, 11/4/08 and 11/8/16, creating a mosaic of a single day through a series of vignettes. While the previous films were focused on presidential elections, Leto’s more broadly takes the temperature of the country on Independence Day, though not every scene explicitly references this. There is enough patriotism – or, more disturbingly, nationalism and white supremacy – on display to offer a snapshot of America less than a year into the divisive 45th president’s first term, but the film as a whole doesn’t attempt to present an explicit, overarching political message. Instead Leto and his editors offer overly brief vignettes that broadly attempt to capture America’s diversity, often creating dialogue through pointed juxtapositions. By its design, the well–produced doc was never meant to delve deeply into any single particular issue, but its survey structure nevertheless results in a disjointed and not especially satisfying watch as a whole.