Life Itself (2018) Poster

(2018)

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10/10
It will make you smile while you are crying
franceskamehmeti22 September 2018
Unpredictable, emotional, well- written dialogue, heart felt performances. When I read the bad reviews I was in shock. How can anybody not love this movie ? It touches on the essence of relationships, from the happy moments to the tragic moments. Please ignore the bad reviews and give this movie a chance. It deserves it.
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9/10
Screw you cynics
rileyrobinson-8740729 September 2018
RANT WARNING:

I have incredibly mixed feelings on this movie.

On one hand, ya, I see why it has a less the 15% score on rotten tomatoes. No spoilers, but there's a major plot point near the end that you really need to suspend belief in reality to believe, within a movie that is so incredibly grounded in its graphic portrayal of reality, both mundane and intense. Additionally, it's pretty sappy, and essentially a 2 hour version of This is Us.

On the other hand, I've been buying up all available stock in Oscar Isaac ever since Inside Llewin Davis, and in Olivia Cooke ever since Thoroughbreds, and this movie only cements them as my first round picks if there were ever a fantasy football style league for actors. And also this: this movie did to me what really all movies are aiming to do. It gripped me intensely for two hours, it made me feel deeply, and here I am 6 hours later, still thinking about it. So really what else matters. Sometimes I get caught up in making sure my opinion of a movie lives up to what I think a movie should critically be without looking at what the movie actually is. I refuse to do that with this movie. I liked it and the people in it. Screw the rest. 9/10
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8/10
2-hour 'This Is Us'
madisonharwell19 September 2018
I was hesitant to invest the time in this film after reading critic reviews but I can absolutely say they were truly too harsh with Life Itself. No surprise but it's very reminiscent of 'This Is Us' and instead of an episodic narrative it's condensed to a two hour multi-chaptered film. While it did feel closer to three hours at points, there's a clear disconnect between the current reviews and the actual film performance. It was very emotional and most of the movie I had a lump in my throat. The way it's structured it's almost like three movies in one but the way it all comes together was so fascinating to watch as an audience member. My vote is you give it a shot, it's a really creative story.
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5/10
Pretty much as the critics say
downhill-dude11 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Talk about having to suspend belief... I've seen some pretty amazing 6-degrees of separation situations, in real life, but this movie asks you to accept some pretty long odds for the connections between the various characters in this movie. Ultimately, after all the dominoes fall, it turns out to be all Antonio Banderas' fault. Does the final result, of a loving couple and their child, justify all the tragedy brought to 8 or 9 other lives? I'd say "no", but we're asked to accept that it is, in the final scene of the film. Narration is so overused, while simultaneously being analysed by the narrator(s) (O-o-oh! So deep!), it's insulting to the audience.

A lot of people viewing this movie talk about the situations pulling at their heartstrings, and finding themselves crying a lot. I'm one of those guys who cries at just about everything. There are TV commercials I've seen 3 dozen times, and I cry every time I see them. I think this film made one of my eyes well up a bit, once, and that was it. The characters are so contrived and overly emotional, that I just couldn't buy in. Did not have a single tear roll down my cheek. In some cases, I actually laughed out loud, at moments that were supposed to be tragic, as the situations were just too ridiculous.

It is not the worst movie of the year, but it won't win any Oscars, either. There are movies that you just know you won't watch again, no matter how bored you are. This is one of those. Thankfully, I didn't have to pay for tickets, or I would have been angry. I took my wife, thinking she might like it, but she found it too depressing. If it had had a few more uplifting moments, she may have been ok with it.
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4/10
Mediocre
FriendlyBanana20 September 2018
Life Itself could have been a lot better if it hadn't tried so hard. The writing, cinematography, editing and music were just over-the-top. Dramatic moments are repeatedly shoved in your face with a giant sledge hammer, instead of artfully delivered. The saving grace for this film is the excellent cast and excellent acting, but it is not enough to save Life Itself from the island of forgotten movies.
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4/10
overwrought
WHBower14 September 2018
Take everything good abou Crazy Stupid Love - remove it, and you'll get Life Itself.

An overwrought, self indulgent, formula gone wrong.
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10/10
C'mon Guys
kryzhan21 September 2018
Beautifully put together film, superb acting, editing. The low reviews are shocking but yet again not. People. Didn't read the book, if there is a book. Don't need to do a mental comparison or have some expectation. Went in blank sheet and wife and daughter came out hugging after all three of us had our moments of reflection and tears during and after the film. You need to savor this film. Of course you'll figure out what you think is going to happen and that's okay. That's life. Life has its patterns and surprise moments that do indeed happen. It could happen and it does happen. Enjoy the film if you are an emotional person, a deeper person. C'est la vie... Just let go and enjoy the film.
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10/10
Best movie of the 23 we saw at TIFF
mamlukman21 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
We just returned from the Toronto Inter. Film Festival. We saw 23 movies, and my wife and I agree this was the best we saw.

Ignore the critics. They say things like "It's just like X," or "He borrowed this from Y," or "It's too unrealistic." Nonsense. Who cares?

If you are looking for an engrossing story, this is it. The four-segment format is great, because it keeps you wondering "What has this segment got to do with what the previous segment was about?" And you quickly find out. But you never know where it's going--the end is unpredictable, but thoroughly possible.

Granted, there are those who have never run into a coincidence in their lives. I feel sorry for those people. I know in my own life I have been surrounded by coincidences: at a recent conference I idly began chatting to a guy in front of me. We had shared the same thesis advisor! When I lived in Saudi Arabia, who moved in next door? A junior h.s. classmate of my wife's--he had moved away in junior high and she had not heard anything about him until 25 years later he popped up 10,000 miles away as her next door neighbor. Every time we go to Europe we bump into people we know. Coincidences--even extremely improbable ones--are part of life. If you accept this, this is the movie for you.

Great performances by a variety of actors. And the end....everyone in the theater was sniffling, and it wasn't because they had colds. It touched each and every one of us, and in the end, isn't that what a movie should do? I think so.
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7/10
cross-contient ripple effect
ferguson-621 September 2018
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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8/10
A jim Valvano special....
tjgorman6623 September 2018
I had to use a JImmy V reference for this movie, when he received his ESPY award and gave that once one a lifetime speech, Jim Valvano said the following," everyday you should do 3 things-laugh your ass off-2have at least 1 positive thought and 3-have your emotions moved to tears, well this somewhat encompasses Life Itself, minus the laughing part, it's mine kinda movie, no guns, no murder, it makes you think, chose, consider ponder, wonder, cry and reflect, sad how this type of movie is considered an anomaly, as opposed to the norm, highly recommend
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9/10
The critics are wrong!
gwunmac29 September 2018
I fell in love with this movie. The characters, the stories, the landscapes were enthralling. I'm not sure what the critics who panned this movie were watching but it wasn't what I watched unfold on the screen. Big thumbs up from me!
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10/10
You Either Get It Or You Don't
ccarr-8928419 September 2018
No super heroes, no car chases, no revenge , no wild cgi effects, no apocalypse, and no lurking undead. Just superb layered storytelling, fine acting, and a message about the dilemma and the magnificent potential of human beings (if we choose it). If that's not a message that interests you, or you have some pre-set bias around the way Fogleman famously evokes emotional themes, then do everyone a favor and don't show up. If, on the other hand, you do not fear your vulnerabilities and can stretch yourself to some artistic license that doesn't involve space ships or old men who bounce off pavement (I'm looking at you Tom, Liam, and Bruce), then I dare say you could really like this movie. I was lucky to get tickets to an early screening and I look forward to watching the IMDB number on this film go up and up.
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1/10
Life will surprise & delight you; this movie won't.
justapilgrim21 September 2018
Most everything that the discerning critic says is true for me. Piecing together a collection of vignettes, riddled with potholes and gimmicks, the movie is overly ambitious. In spite of the star power and a few heartfelt scenes - that are included in the trailer -and driven by a ruthless need to connect the dots and achieve some kind of poetic justice, it accomplishes the exact opposite of its aim to delight you - instead trivializing and cheapening inevitable and common events that bind all and make us human. The Old World storyline featuring Antonio Banderas and company resonated more than the NYC one perhaps because the acting was more understated and the characters less shallow. (I did sniffle just a little towards the end.. quite possibly out of relief that my ordeal watching these self-absorbed sad sacks was almost over.) Somehow, as much as I usually enjoy Annette Bening and Oscar Isaac, even their best efforts could barely engender any empathy for their characters. (And another thing, what is the point of Samuel L Jackson playing himself in this movie? Or the handsome "hero" character in the opening sequence? Oh Hollywood! Forever virtue signalling and making grand political statements all the while executing these pointless casting concessions. Sorry, whatever the purpose, it did not serve to make the movie more authentic or meaningful.) Not likely to seek out any of Fogelman's upcoming projects. Though I am not familiar with his TV work, I have seen previous comedy-drama films like Danny Collins and the way overrated Crazy Stupid Love in which chuckles were few and far between insipid plot lines. Often, less is more. Much less of this movie would've meant the world for me, but lesson learned: steer clear of Hollywood vanity projects that promise to uplift and save you from the ordinary but instead burden you with unfunny, unsound and unsavory situations. Save your precious moments / money & skip it. Trust: there are much better ways to enjoy life!
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9/10
The most memorable romantic drama
nhanvule22 September 2018
Due to the bad reviews, I had low expectations but I was pleasantly surprised leaving the theater. It was such an original screenplay. It made me laughed out loud and cried in one seating. I especially loved Oscar Isaac's performance. I really felt his intense love and grief. He delivered one of the most romantic lines to get a date. He was also very funny.
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4/10
Actors were superb; script, not so much
dpavlichek6224 September 2018
Dan Fogelman fan here. I love "This is Us" and was very much looking forward to this film. I love everyone in it. They each did a fabulous job.

BUT it was such a needlessly depressing movie. We never got beyond the surface of the tragic vignettes, so I didn't feel connected to the characters (okay, maybe one). A good editor could have saved this movie. I'm such a sap, but I never felt a tear or lump in my throat.

If you must watch it to see for yourself, go to the cheap showing.
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3/10
Just like life itself.....what just happened here?
thoughtsfromshelley23 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I'm almost angry about how bad it was. Oscar Isaac was severely under used (yet he was terrific because he's Oscar Freaking Isaac). I thought there were way too many loose ends that were never tied up and fully told. What was the point to Jean Smarts character? I thought that it was odd that half the movie was in English and half was in Spanish. I had high hopes that this would be the movie where Oscar finally gets an academy award nomination......not so sure now. So let me get this straight, Dylan Dempsey (Olivia Cooke who sang the worst and most insulting version of "to make you feel my love" that I have ever heard, Bob Dylan and Garth Brooks are owed a massive apology) ended up married to the guy who caused her mom's death and her dad to end up in the nut house and eventually kill himself? I could go on and on. That's the last time I get duped by such great trailers.
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3/10
What?
devinbiello23 September 2018
I've never seen a film have so much talent and potential fail as much as what I saw last night. The acting is really the only good thing in it. But not many of the characters are interesting and the ones that are don't get enough screen time. I respect Dan Fogelman and I know that deep down this concept could've worked. But the film doesn't know how to tell this story.

It has one of the most baffling opening scenes I've ever seen in a theater. I won't spoil it, you just have to see it for yourself.

Also, there are just odd storytelling ideas. From a "Ghost of Oscar Issac's past" to multiple Olivia Wildes having a snowball fight to Olivia Cooke going through CGI Puberty to Antonio Banderas talking about his father for a full 10 minute scene that is painfully boring. It is a mess, but quite a fascinating one that I honestly think people need to see to believe.

It's produced by Amazon, so if you have Prime then you'll probably be able to watch it in 3-4 months on Prime Video. So while I think it's a mess that people should watch, it should not be watched in a theater.
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10/10
Are we that desensitized as a society? WTF?
Jmccullaugh523 September 2018
This movie was hands down one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. Would highly recommend. I have to think the only people giving this movie a score lower than a seven, are desensitized and are probably embarrassed that they cried at a movie, would be my guess. It was amazing. The only reason you wouldn't enjoy and appreciate this movie and its message, is if you literally do not have a soul.
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10/10
Romantic tragic comedy, theres a new genere in town
roberdeupr14 September 2018
My recommendation is to go sit down unbiasedly and enjoy it. Will keep you wondering and wanting more. 2 hours passed unnoticed and after still talking about it to try and figure out all the connection. If you enjoy those type of movies you wont be dissapointed. Not everyone has had tragedy in their life so might find it above and beyond but thise who have will connect deeply.

Highly recommended
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5/10
A Sappy Television Show, Condensed to Two Hours
kjproulx13 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The division between television shows and films has been present since the beginning of both mediums, but as time goes on, television seems to be growing into a much more cinematic offering. With shows like Stranger Things or Game of Thrones (and many others), television is rapidly evolving. On the other hand, it can't really go the other way. If a television show feels like the quality of a feature film, people will praise it until the end of time, but the reverse is usually frowned upon. Life Itself has the talent of writer/director Dan Fogleman (Danny Collins, This Is Us) at the helm, and while his efforts are definitely present, this movie feels like a television show that has been running for weeks but condensed to fit a two hour run time. Here's why I believe Life Itself doesn't quite work as a film.

The plot of the movie is a spoiler in itself, so I'll refrain from going too deep here. Life Itself follows a couple who met each other at a young age but are no longer together. Their love story sets the rest of the film in motion, making for an experience that just wants to connect people through time. This film tries very hard to pull at your heartstrings and it almost deals with death a little too often. Death is far too present throughout the course of this film, making for a very sober experience. Life Itself isn't afraid to go all out when trying to make something sappy feel authentic and raw, but I don't think it always accomplishes its goal.

Life Itself has a cast that deserved to be in a far better film. From Oscar Isaac to Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas to Annette Benning, and even the little screen time that performers like Olivia Cooke receive are all stellar from beginning to end. Tears will be shed by many, due to the sheer notion that these actors and actresses make this screenplay much better than it truly is. The screenplay itself is fine if it had been written as a short film, which leads me to my next point.

The story for this film is actually quite good and may have been incredible if it had been told as a short film with not much dialogue or a ten-episode television show that fleshes out everything that felt too brief. We are given barely enough time with each character to truly care about where this story ends up throughout the final act, so I found myself latching onto early moments in the movie that had me genuinely shocked. The first act of this movie boasts a fantastic sequence involving Oscar Isaac's character in Will. I was hoping that the effectiveness that these specific moments brought to the movie would continue on, but they sort of fell by the wayside, in favour of linking storylines for the sake of an emotional twist.

This is a film that's broken up into segments that may or may not eventually link together and audiences are asked to go along with many new stories, in hopes that it means something later in the film. I enjoyed each segment of the film for the most part, but the surprises just felt forced, in my opinion. Everything felt too convenient and obvious when certain elements came into play by the conclusion, but it's done in such a way that will most likely have some people weeping. I did find myself tearing up on a few occasions, but only due to either a performance or how a specific connection was made. It's well done, but not as a feature film. That may seem like a cop-out explanation, but I definitely feel that this film would've been so much better as something else.

In the end, Life Itself does benefit from solid direction by Dan Fogleman. He was able to ring out some terrific performances here and piece this movie together in a way that may be clever to some viewers, but it really didn't work for me. This is the type of film that probably won't be received well by critics, due to the overall execution of it, but I can see audiences getting wrapped up in the emotional core of the movie as a whole. I fell somewhere in the middle of those two, feeling underwhelmed by the execution, but impressed at the effort made in attempting something different. I can't personally recommend this movie as a great film, but if you enjoy a bit of sap and a good cry, you may find some enjoyment out of Life Itself.
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10/10
Great movie for those numb to life
jsaldana-0809722 September 2018
Surprised by the low ratings. It's a dark movie for sure but a movie that awakes the numb. Oscar Isaac's performance definitely captivated me and set the tone for the rest of the movie. You gets bits of feel good moments combined with those sweet dark moments that reminds you about the delicacy of life. The entire cast played their role well, even the goofy girl in the end (won't mention more to avoid spoiling the movie). Overall a great movie. Dark with a good ending. Sort of a light st the end of the tunnel.
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8/10
wonderfully sad, tragic and beautiful.
lostyears20 September 2018
The first few minutes you will laugh but then put on your seatbelt because you are going to go for a ride on the emotional train. Very cleverly written and original.
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9/10
Life creates life...even the cynical, hates everything critics
fulleralecia22 September 2018
I really enjoyed this movie. I went into it with no expectations and was engrossed in the story, all the stories that I thought intertwined very well. Yes the ending was predictable, but you wanted it to head that direction. The acting was incredible and I felt it was a good portrayal and reminder of the unpredictability of life and how there can be horrible cruel moments, but there can also be beautiful, magical ones too. I love shows (This Is Us) and movies that evoke feelings so really it gave me exactly what I was looking for. I love the movies that make you think about life and how each second is so precious. Those little nudges to never take a moment for granted are helpful to me. I think if you go into it as you should with most movies, just ready to be told a story and not pick it apart to death, you will enjoy it.
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10/10
So beautiful and raw
laliken10 September 2018
Absolutely loved this movie! The acting is great and the story, although a little confusing at first, evolves into something just beautiful and deep.
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9/10
Those movies that you just cant believe the critics
yifeigong21 September 2018
For emotion-oriented movie audience like me, this is the perfect movie to sit for 2 hours and feel the same love and desperation. Those moments that you cannot stop your tears from watering your eyes, cherish them, if not, why come to movie?
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