Life Itself

There's an old habit among actors reading a new script: Search for your character's name and peruse only that part. But if there were ever a vivid example made for why a performer should read the whole thing, it would be Dan Fogelman's drippy, half-baked melodrama of interconnected vignettes, Life Itself.

A plethora of monologues about life and art likely enticed the actors in this film -- such as Oscar Isaac, Annette Bening, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Jean Smart and Samuel L. Jackson. But had they read the full mind-boggling script that glosses over tragedy with an annoyingly blithe c'est la vie sheen, they would have known on the spot that this film would be the Crash-meets-Collateral Beauty false-gravitas joke of the year. There are, however, clues within individual scenes that this can't possibly work, like when a little girl says she "craves" stability "like a fat person craves chocolate." Or when a woman, Abby (Wilde), spouts nonsense about unreliable narrators and how they're only used in horror or mystery movies. (Since when?) Or when an olive picker in Spain explains with the sincerity of a tourism ad that he picks only by hand as he is but a simple man, and it is the "right way."

Just know that this is the kind of movie where everyone's mom dies, even when it's not in any way necessary to the story. That's Fogelman's go-to weep button. Hell, we're introduced to one mom, played by a jagged but effervescent Smart, and the next time we cut back to her part of the narrative, we're told in voiceover that, oh, she's already dead.



  • Dan Fogelman


  • Oscar Isaac
  • Olivia Wilde
  • Mandy Patinkin
  • Olivia Cooke
  • Laia Costa
  • Annette Bening
  • Antonio Banderas


  • Dan Fogelman

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