Life can be difficult. It can be so difficult, in fact, that tragically, some people decide to cut their journey short by committing suicide. It's that difficulty that The Sweet Life, directed by Rob Spera and starring Abigail Spencer and Chris Messina, out now, attempts to understand. The film is about two strangers who go on a road trip to San Francisco to, sadly, end their lives on the Golden Gate Bridge together. (Spoilers will follow.) But on their journey, the pair realizes that life might be worth living after all.
"I feel like the movie really begins at the end," Spencer says, sitting on a pale pink couch in Bustle's LA office. "There’s a lot of hope at the end, because now they have to really live their lives."
According to the actor, everyone experiences moments where we contemplate life's purpose, and whether life is indeed worth living. "It's part of the human experience," she says.
Because of its positive ending — wherein our protagonists decide, during the film's final moments, to take their lives into their own hands by not killing themselves — the Golden Gate Bridge has been entirely supportive of the film.
"They want to stop suicides happening on their bridge. They are looking to find more effective ways to make it impossible to throw yourself from this bridge. There is a real component to it, but I think particularly, [suicide] is not talked about enough," she says.
Spencer admits that suicide has "definitely touched my life, and my friends’ lives," therefore she hopes this film can assist the conversation around prevention, particularly for young people.
"That's what storytelling is — shedding light and starting a conversation. How do we create intimacy in a culture where yes, we’re more connected, but [where] intimacy is different than connection? I hope a lot of younger people who see the movie will feel less alone," says the actor.
It's a noble goal, and part of the way the film relates to its audience is by injecting humor into what is an otherwise depressing premise.
One example of this comedic release takes place during a particularly awkward sex scene: Two attractive strangers take a road trip from Chicago to San Francisco to kill themselves. They go on adventures, make rash decisions, and generally live their lives as if they only have a few days left to live. And what would this story be without a little romantic intrigue? Yet, when the moment inevitably comes, it's pretty uncomfortable, and entirely hilarious. There are no candles or sweeping scores, but instead, a zipper that gets horribly stuck and someone tripping over the bed.
"Chris' jacket zipper literally got stuck. There were a lot of happy accidents in that scene," she says. "It was my favorite moment of the film because I'd never seen anything like it. It's just so awkward — nothing happens and everything happens. It’s funny and sweet, and there’s a sensuousness in its awkwardness."
These unpredictable, awkward, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful moments are what makes life worthy of living, according to Spencer. Pain is a natural part of human life, something we all must endure, but hopefully, the good will outweigh the bad. The film's title says it best: It's a sweet life, after all.