It's the movie that This Is Us fans have been looking forward to, even if reviews have been less than stellar. The trailer for Life Itself, directed and written by the hit NBC series' creator, shows Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde falling in love, and time passing, and costume parties, and Mandy Patinkin staring lovingly at a baby. Since it's very much based in the real world and not about, like, aliens, is Life Itself a true story? Sometimes you just want to know what you're getting into.
The answer is no. This one came straight from Dan Fogelman, who explained to Original Cin that he started writing it stream of consciousness and was influenced by two major events in his life. "I’ve spoken pretty openly about this, but I lost my mom about 10 years ago and it was the body blow of my life at that time and to this day," he said. "Then, a year later, I met my wife, and that completely changed my life. I think these two women were the inspirations in some ways for this film."
Fogelman also mentioned that while he's becoming known for making people cry, he's just looking at what's going on around him. "I'm a 40-year-old guy and I’m looking at friends dealing with losses of parents, births of children, raising children, loss of jobs, change of careers, illness, and I see a lot of sensitivity in our world right now," the filmmaker explained. "Who’s not sensitive talking about life and death and their losses and their joys and their childhoods?"
As shown with Life Itself and This Is Us, Fogelman is interested in exploring everyday people and the connections between them, whether that means spanning generations or continents. So, while the stories might be involve life events that everyone deals with, they aren't based on real people or real events. Fogelman explained to Deadline, "Despite all the vitriol that’s going on in our country and in the world, when you sit down with people and get past all that bullsh*t, people are remarkably kind and optimistic and emotional. Ask anybody about their parents, or their upbringing, or their children, or their wives or husbands, and you’ll see beauty in that."
While showing a "normal" family dealing with emotionally trying situations has been a great success for This Is Us, the same cannot be said for Life Itself. The reviews are scathing. Slate's is titled, "The New Movie From the Creator of This Is Us Is Bad Enough to Make You Question Life Itself". The Guardian's reads, "Life Itself review – entirely dire daisy-chain melodrama makes you pray for death." The film currently has a 9 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe it's a good thing the movie isn't based on a true story. For one, the people involved would have been through horrible and, apparently, repetitive tragedies. And two, they would have to see these reviews.
This Is Us fans still might but intrigued by the chance to get out some tears, it just sounds like they won't enjoy this one as much as their favorite Tuesday night show.