A sign on the door reads “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.” It’s this sign that David has been missing as he looks behind for his best days instead of anticipating ones to come. It’s this life lesson that the film is trying to give us.
My synopsis: David is turning 50 and having a long, hard look at his life. He is unhappy in his relationship and insecure about his professional life. He is officially having a mid-life crisis as he worries about his age and where he thought he would be in life. His friend James and Ace are there to support him, but he still is unhappy where he is. He meets Shane, James’ cousin from Indiana, who is shy, a little awkward, and 15 years younger. Can these two find in each other what they’re looking for in life?
Character development is one win for Best Day Ever. We get to know David very well. We know his background, why he struggles, and his hopes and dreams for his future (and present). Shane is also well-developed in that we see his vulnerabilities, maturity, and honesty. These are the two primary characters and of course the ones that matter. Other characters are enough to move the story along.
Clear messages are another strength for this film. I looked forward to seeing a story that deals with gay men who are older. So often films are about twenty-somethings with a specific set of issues. Age brings other tribulations. One is age itself and we see David struggling with that quite a bit. Despite his friend’s best advice and support, he finds 50 to be much more difficult than 49.
We look at the idea of relationships and loneliness in later years. David’s partner, Greg, is clearly a douchebag (to put it bluntly). I wanted to smack him several times within the first 15 minutes of the film. But I also wanted to shake David to make him see Greg for what he is. There is even a line of dialogue that lays it out that some people are sort of ok with a sort of ok relationship just to not be lonely.
What is “supposed to be” and expectations about life are something that David is hung up on. He thinks he should be in a certain place in his life, but he’s not where he thought he would be. Maybe this is ok though. And speaking of traditional expectations, the story looks at differences in age and what that means for us. Can a relationship be successful with a 15 year age gap?
What this really boils down to is about how gay people create their own life without the traditional storyline set up for us by society. Marriage, half decimal point children and fences without color… Because of circumstance, we aren’t set up to necessarily follow this path. So when we get older we might find that we’re not where we thought we would be, but where is that exactly? And age is less about the number than where we are at in life and what we’re looking for at any specific point.
Best Day Ever forces us to look at these issues, and brings them out in great detail. I give those who made the film kudos for bringing this different perspective to screen.
What doesn’t quite resonate with me is some of the structure of the film and some of the dialogue. The first scene that establishes the status of David’s current relationship is about 13 minutes long. On one hand this allows us to deep dive into their characters and maybe see more into the whys of their behavior. On the other hand, it might have been more concise and less repetitive.
Some of the dialogue is good and feels like it flows in the situation. But, like the soundtrack, at some times it feels forced and cliche – like the film is forcing the message instead of cleverly delivering it. There is a birthday celebration scene that turns into a rotating soliloquy instead of a natural conversation.
Overall, I liked the messages this film was conveying, and I hope that we see more delving into these issues in films to come. Love is Strange is a recent film that I think did a nice job of looking at this. Maybe it was just the style that I’m not used to or educated enough to appreciate it, but the movie didn’t flow enough to deliver the message without some extra baggage.