6.4/10
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189 user 88 critic

Life Itself (2018)

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As a young New York City 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.

Director:

Dan Fogelman

Writer:

Dan Fogelman
Reviews
Popularity
202 ( 109)
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Oscar Isaac ... Will
Olivia Wilde ... Abby
Annette Bening ... Dr. Cait Morris
Mandy Patinkin ... Irwin Dempsey
Jean Smart ... Linda
Olivia Cooke ... Dylan
Sergio Peris-Mencheta ... Javier González
Antonio Banderas ... Mr. Saccione
Laia Costa ... Isabel Díaz
Àlex Monner ... Rodrigo González Díaz
Isabel Durant ... Shari Dickstein
Lorenza Izzo ... Elena Dempsey-González
Samuel L. Jackson ... Samuel L. Jackson
Jake Robinson ... Henry / Hero
Adrian Marrero ... Rodrigo (7-10 Years Old) (as Adrián Marrero)
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Storyline

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 multi-generational 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.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

This September, Life Will Surprise You See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including sexual references, some violent images and brief drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Site

Country:

Spain | USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

21 September 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Life Itself See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,123,463, 23 September 2018, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$4,102,648, 4 November 2018
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Principal photography began on March 13, 2017 in New York City and continued in Spain in May. See more »

Goofs

The entire film, despite covering four generations of people, all seems to take place in the present day. There's nothing to differentiate the varied time periods. See more »

Quotes

Abby: Unreliable Narrator!... Unreliable Narrators are considered a device, right? Don't answer. They are. They are and they don't get a lot of literary analysis because it's a gimmick. It's a trick. I mean Canterbury Tales gets a shoutout because, you know, it's good but typically it's used for popcorn crime novels and thriller movies Agatha Christie, Usual Suspects, so on and so forth. But I'm going to argue that every narrator by its very definition is unreliable because when you tell a story ...
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Connections

References Beautiful Girls (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Make You Feel My Love
Written by Bob Dylan
Performed by Alexander McCabe and Johnny Hager
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User Reviews

 
cross-contient ripple effect
21 September 2018 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. The theory is that heavy dramas find it challenging to attract an audience during times when real life and newscasts are filled with daily downers. One need only tune in to the local news to see that we are in just such a "downer" period right now, and it would be difficult to argue that this latest from writer/director Dan Fogelman ("This is Us") is anything but the weightiest of heavy dramas - with an emphasis on the preciousness of time and life.

It's highly likely that this film will fall into the love it or hate it category. It's a sure bet that many critics will bash it as pretentious and overly melodramatic. It will be labeled a manipulative tear-jerker with outlandish coincidences. I won't debate the merits of that criticism, and instead will remind all that creative fictional storytelling can often seem fantastical and improbable, but that doesn't mean it can't also be entertaining, thought-provoking, and carry a worthwhile message.

Because of the overlapping and intertwining stories, characters and timelines, filmmaker Fogelman breaks the film into 5 chapters. This should allow most viewers to keep track. Chapter 1 is entitled "The Hero" and features Samuel L Jackson as the unreliable narrator - a recurring theme throughout. It's also in this chapter that we meet Will and Abby. Will (Oscar Isaac) is an emotionally unstable man who has been in a mental institute for the 6 months since his wife Abby (Olivia Wilde) left him. He is despondent and attending required sessions with a therapist played by Annette Bening, and we get cutesy flashbacks to the Will and Abby courtship. See, Abby and Will are the kind of couple who see themselves as Tarantino characters, argue about the merits of Bob Dylan (poet or Chewbacca noises?), and come up with the worst dog name in cinematic history.

Chapter 2 is where we meet Dylan Dempster, daughter of Will and Abby, and granddaughter of Mandy Patinkin and Jean Smart. She is named after the poet songwriter, not the Star Wars character. There is a cool effect that evolves Dylan's face from a child surrounded by death and tragedy to a just-turned-21 year old played by Olivia Cooke (THOROUGHBREDS), who also happens to front an atrocious punk rock band and flashes quite the temper. Chapter 3 shifts from New York City to Carmona, Spain where we are introduced to "The Gonzalez Family" of Javier (an outstanding Sergio Peris-Mencheta), his wife Isabel (another excellent performance from Laia Costa, VICTORIA), and Javier's boss Saccione (Antonio Banderas). Javier works Saccione's olive orchard, as he and Isabel start a family. Chapter 4 focuses on their son Rodrigo (Alex Monner) as he grows into a talented young man while his beloved mother suffers with a debilitating disease. Finally, in Chapter 5 we meet Elena Dempsey-Gonzalez (Lorenza Izzo) and the story comes full circle ... or all the dots are connected. Even the identity of the narrator who took Samuel L Jackson's place after Chapter 1 is revealed.

Filmmaker Fogelman seems to be better suited as a writer (CRAZY STUPID LOVE) than as a director (DANNY COLLINS), and his script here is extraordinary in its ambition. While there may be some developments that seem contrived, there are also some terrific moments throughout. We see a cross-continent ripple effect that makes this the CRASH of family dramas (the 2004 movie, not the one from 1996). Who is a hero and who is a villain is one of the key elements here, but Fogelman seems intent on making the point that traumatic events and tragedy shape who we are as people. The message is that our ability to bounce back - to "stand up" after being knocked down, is really what defines the human experience. For those who keep an open mind, the emotional jolts provided here will likely resonate.


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