indulgent saga throws its actors under a bus

indulgent saga throws its actors under a bus

Dir: Dan Fogelman Cast: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, Laia Costa, Antonio Banderas Cert: 15 Time: 117 mins

Like many tapestries of interwoven drama and coincidence before it, the well-meaning indie Life Itself wants to bring all of humanity together, across generations and continents, to make a statement about our shared destinies in an unstable world. You might wish it luck, if writer-director Dan Fogelman’s methodology weren’t to throw a relay-race of characters serially under a bus.

While this is true on a figurative level – they’re matchstick-thin creations, a gaggle of minions peddling a wildly uninsightful thesis – it is also just very practically the case. More than one of them get run over by speeding buses. Others commit suicide before our eyes, or succumb to cancer in middle age.

Will (Oscar Isaac) is a depressed screenwriter, obsessed with unreliable narration and a perpetrator of it, whose sessions with a therapist (Annette Bening, squandered) are book-ended by bloody tragedy. We get flashbacks to his once-happy married life with Abby (Olivia Wilde), a literary student who bounds in with a peach of an idea for her overdue dissertation: life itself is the unreliable narrator! Whoa. The movie pings this hilarious pearl of wisdom around for the next hour while loads more people kick the bucket to prove it.

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