Wednesday, September 26, 2018


Rated:  R

STARS: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Laia Costa
DIRECTOR: Dan Fogelman
GENRE: Drama

If I had to distill Life Itself down to one sentence, I'd say: It's a big, ambitious film filled with the small moments of life. A multi-generational saga that can seem, at times, like it's abandoned the entire narrative you were following and started up a different film altogether. Then just when you think what movie am I watching, anyway...what does this have to do with anything? connects the dots and there you have your AHA! moment.


The plot revolves around Will Dempsey (Oscar Isaac), a mentally unstable screenwriter and his young and very pregnant wife, Abby (Olivia Wilde). Will had been committed to an institution, but he's out now and trying to piece his reality back together with the  help of his therapist (Annette Bening). Twists and turns and unanticipated moments of high drama ensue as we are placed on alert to expect the unexpected, journeying through the multiple spin-off lives that follow. To give you more would reveal too many spoilers.

I never quote Rotten Tomatoes, but I had a feeling that Life Itself was going to get panned by a lot of critics, and I was right. When I checked  the site, the film had an approval rating of just 12 percent among critics. But get this--it had a full 80 percent audience approval rating! Well, that tells you that critics are pretty much full of shit, aren't they? Yes, I said it. Why? Because critics are cynics. They think their job is to dissect something and tear it apart, when oftentimes it would serve them better just to get in touch with some genuine human emotion. And that is just what Life Itself is imploring you to do. 

Director Dan Fogelman has gotten his impressive cast to buy into this one all the way--as evidenced by the many sincere and powerful performances.

So the question is, can you handle a film that is unabashedly saying something to you in a straightforward manner without couching the message in cryptic terms that are supposed to make you scratch your head to try and figure it out?  For those who answer in the affirmative, Life Itself is a full box of tissue movie. You know what that means. Bring one or you'll be sorry.

Whether your response to Life Itself is positive or negative...whether you think it's brilliant or corny as hell...I'm betting you'll come away thinking, like I did, that you've never seen anything quite like it.

Grade: A