Mads Hedegaard‘s documentary on an ill-advised attempt by Kim “Kanonarm” to set a world record by playing the arcade game Gyruss for a hundred hours on one coin is far more exciting and thoughtful than you’d think it could possibly be.
Kim, a quiet grandfather of uncertain age, teams up with his fellow outcasts at the Bip Bip Bar to beat the existing world record by nearly forty hours, using their combined gaming and mathematical skills to develop a strategy that allows him to accumulate enough lives to take pee breaks and micro-naps over the four days his attempt will take.
While the film amazingly manages to generate genuine suspense during the challenge, it’s all the more remarkable for treating its subjects with empathy and respect. Not one laugh is generated at their expense that feels cruel or sneering, but Hedegaard rather sees what they’re doing as a heroic quest to achieve significance in a truly niche sphere. It uses archival footage that would usually be held at arm’s length with comedy tongs to place their world in perspective, and reminds you that it’s not a cosy, cute little existence being a genuine obsessive on the fringes of society.
With a truly surprising climax that is then topped by an even more surprising credit sequence, this is a soulful and exciting film about achieving an insane feat that very few people would care about.