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Review: After So Many Days

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Do you miss concerts? How about travel?If someone is to read this review twenty years from now they might think these odd questions. But right here, right now they are terribly relevant and I feel like many of you are aching for those days where you would be crammed into a club listening to your latest Spotify discovery. Or perhaps you’d rather fly off on an adventure somewhere you’ve never been. While this still seems far away for most of us, we can still dream. And dreams are at the centre of the new documentary feature After So Many Days, a film that plays like a perfect time capsule of pre-pandemic times.

In 2017 a recently married couple embark on an incredible journey. After making music together for ten years they decide to take on what seems like an insurmountable task – playing 365 shows on a 365-day tour. With the last decade of hard work amounting to little headway within the music industry, Jim and Sam immerse themselves in their songs with the hope they can amass a following of sorts, or maybe even achieve the success they have been craving.

They called it the Anywhere Everyday Tour and it took them through 14 different countries. They played big stages, sometimes opening for other established acts in front of 3500 people. But Jim and Sam also played the small ones. They played at gas stations, at laundromats, in people’s homes, ice cream shops, at restaurants where no one seemed to notice because their voices barely carried over the din. They played for audiences of one in an elevator, in a gondola climbing a skill hill, in airport terminals as they awaited their next flight. >Along the way it’s clear that the venue isn’t what matters as much as the people they meet and the connection they have to the music. As one employee notes while they play in a Los Angeles bodega, “Everybody needs music.”

After So Many Days is part music documentary, part travel diary, part marriage insight.  It helps that its subjects Jim Hanft and Samantha Yonack are incredibly charismatic.  With all the disappointment, and at times bad luck, they have faced you can’t help but root for their success as they travel from gig to gig.  While there are many amazing moments in their journey, the singer/songwriter duo, who also act as directors on this project, don’t shy away from showing the low points.  Show cancellations, rejections, storms, illness and even arguments all threaten their goal along the way.  There are moments where everything seems to ‘unravel’ (to borrow one of their song titles), but this film succeeds, as the couple does, with sheer determination and gumption.

Sprinkled with beautifully captured landscapes amongst the couple’s hand held camera work, After So Many Days also acts as a showcase for Jim and Sam’s musical talents.  Their music, sometimes reminiscent of a lighter You + Me in their harmonies, adds substantially to our understanding of the couple and also to the film’s enjoyment.  Though sure to create many more fans of their music, the documentary’s largest fault is probably not including a few more full performances.  They often just show the beginning or end of a piece, though I suppose it leaves you wanting more (and for those that do an album of songs from the film is currently available on your music apps).  There are also some hurdles with repetition here (they get a lot of necessary paid gigs in Stockholm to be fair), but by and large After So Many Days is a smile-inducing love letter to the dreams and passions that many of us never get to follow.

What starts out as a film about Jim and Sam’s desire for their band to achieve conventional success turns into a study on human connection and how music brings us all together.  By its end even Jim seems surprised by what he has learned about the innate goodness of people.  It becomes a true privilege to be a fly on the wall during this personal journey. Jim and Sam will certainly inspire many with their travels but After So Many Days also reminds us to never lose true meaning even while chasing success.  It is, as Jim and Sam are, quite simply hopeful.  And hope is a little something we could all use right about now.

After So Many Days is available on digital platforms October 20th

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