LIFE ITSELF – A Review by Cynthia Flores

LIFE ITSELF – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Life will surprise you is the tagline for this new film from the creator of the huge TV hit This Is Us.  There is a legion of fans from that show that has been counting down the days to the release of this film.  I wish I could say that it’s totally worth the wait, but I can’t.  I did not care for the first third of the film, and that is the part you see on the trailers everywhere.  It's the part of the story that opens up the whole movie which is a little confusing.  The film starts in total blackness as Samuel L Jackson narrates at the very beginning of this film.  It was funny at first but a little confusing, finally we begin to see the love story of Will (Oscar Isaac) and Abby (Olivia Wilde) as being told by Will to his psychiatrist, Dr. Cait Morris (Annette Bening), after what is the end of their idyllic marriage.  Writer-director Dan Fogelman has a knack for turning the mundane into something heart-wrenching and comical sometimes all at the same time.
In this movie, it seems he gets to try out all sorts of ideas and different ways of telling a story that he hasn't been allowed to use on television.   Unfortunately, some of his storytelling techniques just don't work very well, or at the very least are a bit jarring.  Jumping around in the timeline is fine, but when we see Will and his psychiatrist step back into Will's past to watch interactions he had with Olivia when they first met, you feel like you're watching Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past or something. Also a word of warning, never blink or take for granted anyone you see on the screen because they will probably come back in another part of this epic tale and play a more significant role in the story unfolding.
I don’t want to give away any of the major plot twists, which there are many because in this film even the smallest act can have long-reaching effects across time and space.  But I must say the picture finally settles down and gets better when it tells the love story between Javier (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) and Isabel (Laia Costa) back in Spain.  I wish that the film company did a bigger push to the Spanish speaking market for this film because a large, and I would say the best part of this film, is in Spanish with English subtitles and would be embraced by anyone who enjoys fiery Latin love stories.
The performances the director gets from his actors and actresses are top-notch, and you are ultimately drawn into their stories because they're filled with a lot of heart and tragedy.  Finally, the film Life Itself is about love and how interconnected we actually all are.  Because it got me at the end I give this uneven film a B rating, it's definitely worth a viewing on the big screen with the someone you love.
Directed by Dan Fogelman
Written By Dan Fogelman  
Rated R
Selig Rating B
Running Time 1 hr 58 min
Drama / Romance
Wide Release September 21st  
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Antonio Banderas, Laia Costa, Annette Bening  
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