Life Itself

MPAA Rating:
118 mins
Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening
Dan Fogelman
Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Aaron Ryder

Content at a Glance


scenes showing intimate touching in bed, but no overt sexuality; couples kiss; man makes a joke about masturbation; references to past sexual violence; a pregnancy scare involving a teen


many curse words, including; “f***?/”f***face” (as a name), “s***”, “d**k”, “d***/?gd”, “bi***”; several spanish curse words


an accident involving a bus hitting someone is replayed several times throughout, including bloody aftermath; a prominent character shockingly commits suicide by gun, with some blood afterward; a fight between two girls breaks out; a sexual predator is shot in the leg as punishment.


cigarettes and marijuana are smoked; social drinking at parties; man drinks excessively as a result of trauma; man offers another xanax


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As a young New York couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes.

Movie Message

Life itself. The word “life” alone musters up a mosaic beyond comprehension: stories, characters, the beginnings and ends of lives and their intersections. The vastness of it all leads, as well, to vagueness, it takes on so many grandiose shapes and forms. With this in mind, writer-director Dan Fogelman and the producers of NBC’s This Is Us should feel right at home, and because of life’s great mystery, it’s a wonder that they even tried to tackle it.

Working from his own script, Fogelman demonstrates an understanding of the rigor and surprise of life, but it does not translate in his words and in his overall storytelling. There are moments that are meant to be humorous: a rather left-fielded narration from Samuel L. Jackson, the intensity and dry humor of one of the protagonists, Will (Oscar Isaac). Still, nothing falls into place. It is as if the filmmakers were trying to force in laughs at the beginning of the film to compensate for the weighty drama to follow in the next two acts.

In the end, everything connects relatively well. For once, as a filmgoer, I did not care for the journey, not even that of these lives. With such an exquisite cast to work with, LIfe Itself is anxiety-inducing, trying to silence the fears of living life to the fullest and instead tears open a world of possibilities of what could go wrong.

Life Itself, I feared, would veer too deeply into sentimentality; but in fact, the film is not sentimental enough. WIth strong adult themes to consider, Life Itself is not awarded our Dove approval.

The Dove Take

Nothing feels sacred or valued, making the journey of life unbearable to watch.

© The Dove Foundation – All Rights Reserved.

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