Life Itself Review
What’s It About?
Three seemingly random tales involving a down and out New Yorker, a young punk and an Andalusian farmer actually prove to be interconnected.
Who’s In It?
Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn David, Ex Machina, & more recently Star Wars: Episode VIII)
Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy, Rush, & more recently Vinyl)
Annette Bening (American Beauty, The Kids Are All Right, & more recently 20th Century Women)
Other notables include:
Olivia Cooke (Me And Earl And The Dying Girl, The Limehouse Golem, & more recently Ready Player One)
Antonio Banderas (The Mask Of Zorro, Shrek I-IV), & more recently Knight Of Cups)
Director: Dan Fogelman (Danny Collins, This Is Us)
Following the success of This Is Us, writer and director Dan Fogelman (who also wrote Cars, Bolt, Tangled and Crazy, Stupid, Love) moves to the big screen with Life Itself. Boasting an impressive cast including Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening and Olivia Cooke, Life Itself is an interconnected butterfly-effect style movie, along the lines of say Babel.
The opening act, which is by far the strongest, introduces us to Will - a down-and-out whose life has sadly spiralled out of control. Told through a series of flashbacks we see him and partner Abby in a gloriously happy relationship just expecting their first child, but it is only later in the film that we discover the events that led to his current state.
The other two acts, which ultimately prove to be interconnected to the first, follow young and parentless punk Olivia Cooke trying to find her way in the world, while in the third act wealthy landowner Antonio Banderas treads the line between benevolence and coveting his farm worker’s wife.
The opening story is by far the stronger of the three, and could easily have been expanded in all honesty. Oscar Isaac gives a typically wonderful performance of a broken man, once high on life while still in his loving relationship, and he is given strong support from Olivia Wilde as his partner, and Annette Bening as his therapist. Admittedly, it does suffer a little from unrealistic and self-conscious lines, but for the most part, the performances shine through.
Despite the talents of Olivia Cooke, the second act is without doubt the weakest, meandering along, while the third act, despite an engaging turn from Antonio Banderas, feels a little superfluous until the three strands all come together to deliver a slightly underwhelming twist.
In essence, Life Itself tries to be too clever for its own good, and should really have focussed on the initial story, but is still worth a watch for Oscar Isaac’s performance.
In A Nutshell:
An interesting opening tale with a great performance from Oscar Isaac, but the film tries to be too clever for its own good, and ultimately becomes a little muddled and convoluted.
Oscar Isaac’s performance
The film loses its way with the second and third acts, with the plot becoming convoluted and muddled.
Life Itself is released in cinemas and Sky Cinema on 4 January