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Maria von Heland
Anna Maria Mühe,
A smartly realized film within a film (within a film?)
Alfi Seliger is having an existential crisis.
His family hates him, he's worried about cancer, he's shunned by his peers, his psychiatrist suggests that he kill himself and -- last but not least -- he's not sure if anything's real. Alfi, an on-the-rocks 50-something film director, has become convinced that he's living in somebody else's movie, that of Dani Levy, who actually is the director of this film -- and Alfi, his alter-ego -- in the brain-teasing "Life Is Too Long."
Part screwball comedy, part paranoid thriller, Levy's "Life Is Too Long" concerns Alfi's quest to film a movie about the death of humor, framing the story around the Mohammed caricature controversy. As Alfi says at one point while receiving an award, to hilariously droll effect, "Comedies aren't only made to make people happy." But this German film within a film (and, in one particularly absurd scene, a film within a film within a film) also stands as an homage to Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories" and Federico Fellini's "8½."
Markus Hering lights up the screen as Alfi, a bumbling, Mr. Magoo-type man-child sporting Gene Wilder hair, so at odds with himself, he can't distinguish the line between reality and the film he has been working on for years.
"Life Is Too Long" has many laugh-out-loud or cringe-worthy scenes, depending on your sense of humor, including a Michael Jackson death joke, a shocking gag in the league of Oedipus marrying Jocasta in the Greek myth, and -- my favorite -- one which finds Alfi's daughter photographing his colonoscopy with her cellphone.
Depending on your perspective when the credits roll, "Life Is Too Long" is either a film with a happy ending or a film that never ends.
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