Review by Sean Boelman
The indie music scene has flourished in recent years as more and more musicians have found a convenient way to get their work to the masses; however, in light of increased supply, artists are being forced to discover new ways to make themselves and their act stand out. The documentary After So Many Days tells the story of one such group doing something very unique.
The film follows husband-and-wife couple and band Jim & Sam as they set out on a tour with the goal of performing once a day for the entire year, ranging from actual concert bookings to pop-up concerts in a local bodega. It’s an interesting idea for a performance tour, and that at least allows the movie to be intriguing, even if it doesn’t translate as cinematically as the duo would have hoped.
At less than ninety minutes long, there’s clearly no way to incorporate all of the footage that was shot over the period of a year, leading to a lot of time being condensed. It would have been interesting to see a composite of the performance footage (twenty seconds from each performance would equate to roughly 110 minutes), but the behind-the-scenes drama takes the spotlight here.
It would be hard to walk away from this film without admiring Jim & Sam for their dedication to their passion despite the obstacles that they faced. And one will also be left wondering why they wanted to direct the documentary themselves. It could be argued that their tour could have been made much easier had they left the filmmaking up to someone else.
That said, Jim & Sam are able to get some interesting ideas out of their journey. There is a portion of the tour, during which they are struggling to get bookings, in which they begin to question whether or not the music industry is quite as healthy as they had initially thought. They are obviously talented performers, so the audience will wonder why this is so much of a struggle for them.
There are also a few wonderful moments that capture the magical ability of music to bring people together. Some of the best scenes in the movie are those in which Jim & Sam are forced to give an impromptu performance because one of their venues cancelled or they just couldn’t find somewhere to play, so they grab people off the street and sing to them. It’s pretty cool.
The style that Jim & Sam bring to the film is very straightforward, shooting it in an almost run-and-gun way. It’s clear that their focus was on documenting their tour rather than creating a comprehensive music documentary. While this does lend the movie some authenticity, it also makes it a lot less exciting than similar films.
After So Many Days will be an interesting watch if the viewer is intrigued by the idea of Jim & Sam’s tour. Admittedly, more could (and probably should) have been done with the material, but it’s based around an impressive feat nevertheless.
After So Many Days screens at the Enzian Theater as part of the Florida Film Festival on August 16 at 6:30pm. It is also available virtually (geoblocked to Florida) for the entirety of the festival, which runs August 7-20 in Orlando, FL.