Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Four Seasons in a Day’

Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Four Seasons in a Day’

There’s probably a good argument to be made that Brexit is the event most indicative of how politics in the 21st Century seems to be growing increasingly partisan. When first announced, responses to Great Britain’s attempts to separate from the European Union heavily fell along political lines. Annabell Verbeke’s Four Seasons in a Day attempts to crystalize what that actually means in terms of those closest to the effects of a Brexit—those that cross the lough between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The permeable border between two Irelands has become fraught as Brexit separates a UK from an EU. Verbeke’s film takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to filming towns that dot the lough, managing to serendipitously “document” what life is really like. The hope is that viewers will be able to feel for the full effects of Brexit upon human, and in a sense, transcend political gesticulating regarding the term “Brexit..” Sometimes, this works wonders. Verbeke is clearly a formal talent. There are some wonderfully composed images, including one of a young boy walking between a row of cars parked on a ferry dock, which symbolically transposes the idea of being “caught between immobile structures,” onto the film itself.

These images, however, seem to be designed to “transcend politics,” more than actually consider what the ramifications of Brexit are. Equal time is afforded to all sides of the debate, including individuals whose primary concerns are “keeping our identity”. That choice, in and of itself, feels deeply political, and I’m not entirely certain that’s what Verbeke’s intentions are. If I had no idea what the background context was, I’d be a little more willing to declare this a beautiful slice of life. Instead, I’m holding Four Seasons in a Day and its beautiful images at a reserve.

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Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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