15th October 2018 8.40pm at Embankment Garden Cinema
16th October 2018 11.30am at Embankment Garden Cinema
18th October 2018 8.40pm at odeontcr: Odeon Tottenham Court Road
Life Itself, directed and written by Dan Fogelman, is centrally a love story, focussing on the premise that love will cure all tragedy, and that when life knocks us down we must get back up. Not a particularly new or unique idea but the film approaches the topic with intrigue. Although clichéd at points – mostly in the ending – the weaving of stories is interesting, but the fact we jump in and out of the characters’ lives does decrease the amount of characterisation that would have added depth to the somewhat superficial storyline.
The attitude to tragedy is less delicate in its representation, used here as a tool to shock the audience, hammering in the movie’s message about life – that we have no way of knowing what the future holds. Death seems to be represented as something that people must overcome, however, viewers aren’t allowed to see any of this emotional growth or struggle, just the end point of the character, meaning this message has no substantial value.
One thing that is explored at the beginning of Life Itself is how we are all subjective in our storytelling, that no one person can tell a truly unbiased story. The artistic method of expressing this fact is fascinating to see constructed on screen but it is not maintained throughout, which is a shame as following this questioning of reality could have provided more originality.
The cinematography is incredibly intimate, mainly showing the characters through close-ups, which works well due to the talent of the actors involved, such as Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde. What the script lacks in drawing in the audience is made up for in the framing of the shots. The movie does a lot of telling us rather than showing and this is one of its central downfalls – especially as the narration, although comforting at times, ends up being clunky and dull later on.
It seems that the narrative would have been better matched to a TV series, which makes sense due to the fact that Dan Fogelman has made his fame through This Is Us. Had the tragic plot been spread out and the audience allowed to see the depth of the characters the end product would not have seemed quite so mediocre.
Life Itself is released nationwide on 4th January 2019.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Life Itself here: