You would be forgiven for wanting to get up and leave while viewing the first 20 minutes, but stick around for what becomes an otherwise adorably enchanting film about loss, grief but most importantly, love.
Directed by Dan Fogelman, Life Itself portrays the lives of several characters as they embark on their own journeys of love and deal with all that life has to offer them. With an impressive cast including Olivia Wilde and Antonio Banderas, it therefore follows the adventures of its characters as they desperately try to understand and get to grips with the real meaning of life, itself.
The film, initially narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, is split into five chapters, which each detail the stories of about twelve characters grappling with their own experiences of loss, heartbreak, family and friends. The first chapter follows Wilde’s character, Abby, and her partner Will as they prepare for the arrival of their daughter. The chapter flips between the past, when Will and Abby were happy and awaiting their destiny as parents, and the present day, which sees a depressed Will as he tries to identify what is causing him so much pain. From this point forward, the chapters are narrated by an unknown female voice, and follow the lives of Abby and Will’s baby girl Dylan, as well as of Rodrigo, Isabel and Javier Gonzalez. I would, of course, disclose the link between the latter 3 characters and the former, however the magic of the movie lies behind the unknown intertwining of the characters and their stories as they unfold.
The first chapter is arguably disturbing and bizarre, and it is understandable why one might wish to walk out of the film based on these opening scenes. However, I plead with you to not give up, and not base the rest of the film on what you are initially shown. As the rest of the film unfolds, it becomes a heartfelt, painful and honest story of romance, coming-of-age and letting go. Life Itself shows viewers the pain of a mother’s love, as well as the grit of young people infatuated with each other, and most importantly, will remind all what it feels like to be young and in love and evoke such strong feelings, particularly for those who are fans of these romantic dramas.
Indeed, Life Itself has flunked at the box office, perhaps a result of its partial straight-to Sky Cinema release in the UK, and definitely won’t be for everyone. Some may find it overly melodramatic, whilst others may feel like it implies its viewers are naïve and inept. However, it’s hard to dispute the fact that the performances displayed, particularly that of Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Laia Costa and Sergio Peris-Mencheta, are worthy of great praise. Undeniably, Life Itself is a more alternative watch and may not initially entice audiences. However, those who don’t mind having a good cry whilst having a pile of comfort food snacks ready and waiting on their laps are guaranteed to enjoy this truly charming movie.
Life Itself, directed by Dan Fogelman, is released in the UK via Sky Cinema, certificate 15.