The unreliable narrator is the voice in every story that tells us what is supposedly happening, but much like the title entails, they are unreliable. So, in reality the only reliable narrator is life itself, because it takes us on unpredictable turns as we watch it unfold before our eyes…
This is the basis of Life Itself (2018), the latest project from This is Us writer Dan Fogelman. Similar to his previous works, this film heavily relies on traumatic circumstances and death to convey its emotional themes, but unlike the Roger Ebert documentary of the same name, it mostly lacks the heart to really invest you in the narrative.
The aforementioned issues combined with the blatantly cliched writing lead the film to be anything but memorable, and will likely be forgotten as time goes by. It heavily borrows significant plot points from multiple movies, and it’s unashamed of its predictable story points, including its downright depressing beginning.
The only positive thing I can even find is the first act — more specifically the scenes with Oscar Isaac. He is a absolute champ at delivering dialogue, and his one specific monologue is particularly heart wrenching.
It’s a shame that the filmmakers couldn’t make all the characters like those presented in the first act, because they were the only people in the story that I really cared about. After the first act, they all become one-dimensional, and sometimes laughably so. You can’t expect the audience to resonate with characters when you can’t make them feel human.
Towards the latter half of the film, I began to realize that not only had Fogelman created a mediocre film, but at times a infuriating one. Very rarely does a film kill off it’s most like-able characters, yet, the film offs every character that even has the remnants of a soul.
Overall, Life Itself (2018) is a terribly average film, that continuously gets worse as it’s runtime progresses. This film makes me glad I have AMC A-List.
Final Score: 3 out of 10.
Life Itself • Run time 1:58 • Rated R - for language including sexual references, some violent images and brief drug use