How many times don’t we say to ourselves “We only have one life, let’s make the best out of it” while not 100% realizing what we just said? You might mean it for half a day, a day tops but after a few days, you just go back to your routine and forget about how important life is and how fast it can be over.
We can assure you that that’s going to change from now on. With his “Life Itself”, director Dan Fogelman (“This Is Us”) delivers a tearjerker with some important life lessons we should take with us everywhere we go. Maybe not the film, but certainly the lessons
Just as in real life, there are confusing times and the film actually starts with one. If you have, just like us, read a little bit about this movie beforehand, you might be confused by the big surprise in the very beginning but stay in your seats, you’re watching the movie you came to see.
However, once you’re over it, it becomes clear what this movie will be about and how it will be portrayed on screen. Life is divided into different chapters and so is this film.
In the first one, we see the couple Abby, Olivia Wilde (“Cowboys And Aliens“, “Her”) and Will, Oscar Isaac (“Annihilation”, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi“) with which it all started. After a tragedy involving his wife, Will seeks help from Dr. Cait Morris, Annette Bening (“American Beauty”, “20th Century Women”). We see what really happened with the two lovebirds Abby and Will, who were inseparable since university.
First, there was the friendship, the love, the marriage, and the child. However, there was the also the doubts, the troubles, and the uncertainty and sadly the negative emotions took over the positive ones. Right after that, the accident occurred. One that has more impact on more people that firstly presumed.
One of the people is their child Dylan, Olivia Cooke (“Ready Player One“, “Thoroughbreds“), who miraculously survived the accident, and her story is being told in the second chapter. With all the tragedy and loss happening during her life, Dylan has become a real rock rebel in more than one way. Rude, filthy-mouthed woman who scares everyone but inside there’s still that venerable, emotional and young girl. One that’s crying out for company, love, and friendship.
An unexpected encounter with a mysterious young man, Alex Monner (“The Wild Ones”, “I Know Who You Are (TV)”) might change that. However, this might not have been the first time they’ve met and without realizing they have more things (and people) in common than they initially thought. As you probably already guessed, the third chapter will be about this unknown man.
Dan Fogelman was both the director and writer of this film and maybe he should have been focusing a little less on directing and more on writing. There’s that big confusing moment at the beginning and while the story seems to be going in the right direction, there are too many twists, turns and changes in this film. It keeps you bouncing from left to right and back and forth and it just makes you dizzy. While in real life, a tragic event probably has an important impact on multiple lives, it would have been better if there were fewer characters involved in this movie. Less is more and that’s certainly the case in this one.
Where “Life Itself” has just too many things going on, it shines when it comes to emotions. It’s definitely a movie that puts you back with your two feet on the ground in the most abrupt and emotional way. What we would our lives be if we decide to go left instead of right? Or whom we would have become when we didn’t go to the party where we met our future husband/wife? We will never know. Only that we’ve made a decision and that we have to bear the consequences of it. Whether they’re bad or good.
What would have happened when Abby and Will found out that they would have a boy instead of a girl? What would have happened if they took another road home? The screenplay doesn’t only make you look back onto your own life and the path you already took but it also makes you think about the future and how limited our time on earth can be. Something that we should do more often.
Just as any aspect of this film, the performances are neither extremely good or totally dreadful. Yes, there’s the feeling that all the wonderful actors such as Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening and Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”, “Wonder”) aren’t able to show their full potential due to the strangeness of the story and the many twists. However, they are still capable of showing us human emotions. From some happiness and a few moments of joy but also sadness, grief, and angriness.
Don’t be fooled or misled by the title. “Life itself” is certainly not all about the pleasures of life and to be very fair, the movie wasn’t always a pleasure to watch. That being said, there were a couple of moments we had to hold back our tears from sadness and grief because we realized how fast our life can be over and that it can happen to anyone.