In Helvetica, Gary Hustwit’s medium-cool documentary on the most famous—or at least the most recognizable—typeface in the world, the filmmaker encounters that knotty problem faced by many like-minded chroniclers: how to make the utterly mundane interesting, or at the very least relevant. This is an especially pressing issue when one considers the history and affect of the typeface Helvetica, which although only invented about a half-century ago, very quickly attained an almost complete cultural penetration, to the point where it has become practically invisible, even to people who notice things like typefaces. It’s simply everywhere, from corporate logos to album covers to t-shirts to flyers advertising weight-loss cures, a point that Hustwit makes time and time again throughout the film, using interstitial footage of random Helvetica-employing signage in various urban centers—because, after all, it seems quite an urban typeface.
It’s in limited release. You can read the full review at Film Journal International.