‘Life Itself’ // Film Review

Ever seen a movie where it tries so hard to be cooler than everyone else? Don’t you want to sit down and watch a two-hour movie where it might just show you and ups and downs of life in your hands? Then you should probably skip over Life Itself. Oh, how there’s so much to take from this.

This is one of those movies where it’s split up into chapters introducing us to new characters in between. It starts off with Will (Oscar Issac) having some kind of mental breakdown after his wife Abby (Olivia Wilde) left him. He then talks about everything over with his therapist Dr. Morris (Annette Bening). Following that is Dylan (Olivia Cooke), a 21-year-old musician who’s angry all the time. And then flying over to Spain where it focuses on Javier (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), a hard-worker in an olive harvest where he’s put in charge by Mr. Saccione (Antonio Banderas), and the romance that comes between him and Isabel (Laia Costa).

Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde in Life Itself (2018)

Life Itself was one of those fall movies that wasn’t on my mind before it was released. Mainly the reason that could have some ideal of good was because of who’s behind it: writer-director Dan Fogelman. For those who aren’t familiar with his name, he’s the creator of NBC’s This is Us, which is regarded as one of the best shows on television currently, and he’s also the director of Crazy Stupid Love, one of my favorite romantic comedies. So a story coming from mind with all of these talents involved, how did this get made? As I was watching Life Itself, this might be the first movie to make me feel depressed by how abysmal this drama turned out to be.

Fogelman’s script gives so many bad vibes in terms of the dialogue and the different stories that are already forgotten once they are over. I already knew I was going to hate this in the first five minutes. It starts off talking about the use of “the unreliable narrator” and how it doesn’t mean anything or something. I’m not kidding. But do you want to know the worst part? There wasn’t a single moment where I’m supposed to care about any of these characters. Most of them just came across as mean-spirited or just bland as rice. Everything is filled with melodramatic bull that doesn’t make you feel any remorse of sadness. This plays out like a feature-length This is Us episode, but without all of the good, executed drama.

You have a really good cast that’s wasted with a story this terrible. No movie with Isaac, Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Banderas, Cooke, Costa, and Bening should be given material from a script that’s simply boring and tone-deaf. What happened? And I honestly say nobody in here gave good performances because they are working with nothing. Nobody has any real chemistry where it doesn’t feel realistic. Just give me a reason to care for the relationship blossoming between Isaac and Wilde. How bad do you have to be to make me not like Isaac? Shame!

Antonio Banderas and Àlex Monner in Life Itself (2018)

The overabundance of narration throughout the movie was annoying and just wasn’t needed at all. During the third chapter in the movie, there were no subtitles from the way I was watching it, and I had no ideas what any of the characters are talking about since they are speaking in Spanish? So, about ten minutes, it was completely checked out and was just thinking about literally anything else. Or, in this case, stop the movie.

And since this is one of those interconnected movies where it needs to reveal why these certain things happen to some characters, the revelation of it all pissed me off the right way. It was at that point that I just wanted to shut it off. Like a middle finger to the screen in frustration.

Was there anything positive that came out of this? If we’re not gonna count Wilde’s beautiful eyes, absolutely not.

People have said Love Actually is a movie that’s manipulative. What do I say to that? “You’re wrong about everything if you think that.” Remember Collateral Beauty? Well, Life Itself is 2018’s answer to that dreadful Will Smith drama. There’s nothing about Life Itself that’s satisfying or enjoyable. I felt depressed sitting through and made me reflect about literally anything else on the mind.

You would think from the trailers that this was gonna be one of that kind of lighthearted dramedy’s that will be relatable when everything wraps up. Think of the most painful way to experience pain and multiple it times whatever. This wants us to discover what life is all about based these stories when the credits roll. What it tries its hardest it evoking tears. Because of how pretentious this is?

By the end of this total mess of this so-called “movie”, I seriously hope nobody likes this. Trying to be clever with your story does not mean it’s incredible. Depressing, boring, and borderline manipulative to every sense of the word, Life Itself doesn’t find anything redeemable when its cast is wasted on a melodrama with zero substance. I hate Life Itself and everything about it. Also, this made me temporarily hate Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love.”

Grade: F

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