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Life Itself

Opening Date
06 Dec 2018
NC16 Coarse Language and Some Violence
118 mins
English - subtitles to be advised
Drama, Romance
Dan Fogelman
Oscar Issac, Antonio Banderas, Olivia Cooke, Olivia Wilde
As a young New York couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes in Life Itself. Director and writer Dan Fogelman (“This Is Us”) examines the perils and rewards of everyday life in a multigenerational saga featuring an international ensemble including Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Sergio Peris- Mencheta, Laia Costa, Alex Monner and Mandy Patinkin. Set in New York City and Carmona, Spain, Life Itself celebrates the human condition and all of its complications with humor, poignancy and love.
By Jason Lin  06 Dec 2018
Life is something that everybody learns in real time with every second and breath. 
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Often highly regarded as the greatest set of uncertainties that perhaps artificial intelligence and algorithms would have difficulties to break it down and predict, life is something that everybody learns in real time with every second and breath. It is a profound subject that Dan Fogelman took on as he wrote and directed his latest feature film Life Itself.
Fogelman addressed the subject by proclaiming a thesis (through an onscreen character Abby played by Olivia Wilde) that life itself is the greatest unreliable narrator. This provided the premise (and perhaps excuse) for Fogelman to develop stories of several characters spanning across a few generations. In a possible attempt to elevate the mystifying trait of life itself, Fogelman also interweaved these stories in a manner that faintly reminded one of 2006’s Babel.
If it was not ironic for a film tackling the topic of life itself as the most unreliable narrator, Fogelman implemented heavy off-screen narration throughout its 118-minute film that greatly undermined film literacy. Perhaps more suited for an audiobook or television production, Fogelman might have presented talent at the wrong platform.
Instead of off-screen narration, the various life stories might have been better narrated through more subtle references like songs for instance – the soundtrack of life itself.
Despite so, the cast performance was notably strong and impactful to present the vivacious qualities of life – something that many would find themselves addicted to in the form of televised drama series. The overall performance was held consistently high, with special mentions credited to Oscar Isaac, Antonio Banderas and Laia Costa.
Without breaking down the specifics of each of the five chapters on the life stories of various characters that ranged in geographical locations, culture, language and time, all tales had a common theme – love. Fogelman emphasised on living life to the fullest and reminded viewers on the power of love from various perspectives.
There was a particular scene where Laia Costa’s character’s motivated speech to her son in Spanish tried to inspire love and the will to live a good life by transcending language where it didn’t require any translation. While a cheesy act for some, Fogelman simply allowed emotions to run high – something that life embraces and would be proud of.
Life Itself would be best appreciated as a larger than life literature that happened to be translated onto the silver screen to little fanfare. Without discriminatingly discounting Fogelman’s endeavours, Life Itself might find greater success in other types of medium.
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