It’s almost as if the direction were set in a ‘boy who cried wolf’ mould, leaving behind a sour taste and a general hostile feeling towards even the purposeful moments
There is a sensitivity about Life Itself that is admittedly individual, but wholeheartedly irritating. Dan Fogelman’s latest picture is one of self-righteousness and supposed awareness, connecting stories together in ways it makes out as impressive, but in reality come across as clichéd ignorance. This is a film pointing towards something greater impacting human lives, whilst simultaneously proving the complete opposite.
Offering up three stories from a bigger arc, Life Itself opens with Will Dempsey (Oscar Isaac), a new father struggling to deal with his wife walking out on him. Attending counselling for the situation, his former relationship with Abby (Olivia Wilde) is explored through flashbacks, proving Will’s story is just the beginning of a long, interconnected tale of karma and destiny.
Life Itself feels forced and over produced to a level of extreme discomfort. This comes across most blatantly with Olivia Wilde’s Abby, a college student writing a thesis on literature’s unreliable narrators. She believes life is the ultimate unreliable narrator, and this, featuring relatively early on in the film, sets a precedent for Life Itself to effectively lie to the audience, continuously. It’s almost as if the direction were set in a ‘boy who cried wolf’ mould, leaving behind a sour taste and a general hostile feeling towards even the purposeful moments Life Itself makes a show of.
This continues to taint the overall effect of the plot, where even in the most straightforward of sequences Fogelman leaves signs of a dogged persistence, pushing the idea of inter-connectivity into every crevice of Life Itself. By reducing the overall impact of the story’s stronger elements in such a way, the value of Fogelman’s message is either left behind or lost entirely.
Life Itself is a passionately flawed film, irritating with its insistence on looping and linking the story as many times as possible. There’s an attempt from Fogelman to extend the drama beyond the norm, opening theories and spinning in twists, but all it really does is make the feature feel like a well acted soap opera.
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