Even before Life Itself was actually released, or had even had press screenings, Dan Fogelman was preparing for it to be admonished by critics.
That’s just what he has come to expect, as he is well aware that his brand of emotional storytelling just doesn’t chime with what reviewers demand.
Fogelman’s defense of “Life Itself” was clear in his recent essay for Deadline about the film. Shortly after it was posted I had the chance to speak to Fogelman about “Life Itself,” during which time I asked him why he felt the need to defend the film long before it had actually hit cinemas.
“That’s a really interesting and fair question. I think because I am sensitive and I have been doing this for a while and I have experienced it on things I have been really proud of before.”
“I think that I am already getting a sense that audiences are really responding to it. I have always had a tenuous with the most heavy duty kind of critics in television and film.”
“For whatever reason I tend to tread in waters that they never seem to fully commit to or like very much. Even with success, like my television show that garners awards.”
“I knew this film was really speaking out loud its message of positivity and playing with structure in an unusual way, playing with narrative and going meta in a sense.”
“These are all things that these people recoil against. So part of it is self-protection. I’ve had the experience of making things and been lucky enough that they really hold with people for a long time.”
“Even if they didn’t immediately come out to a rapturous response to critics. I have never quite understood the dynamic. Of course as a human being it can hurt a little. So I expect no less here.”
Fogelman even believes that there’s a parallel to be made between the cynicism of the entertainment industry and the current divide in the political world, too, which he hopes “Life Itself” can help to bridge.
“I noticed long before our great political divide that something was coming over. Even just in the entertainment industry, how cynical, hard, severe and bleak our art was becoming. You could feel it in the air even before it took shape.”
“Obviously the political turns of the last year or two have only increased that.”
“It was as we were making it, and we were seeing actors really connect with stuff, and I was watching people really feel things, and I was watching people in movie theaters as we were screening the film early for audiences, it became clear to us that while this is a scary thing to put out into this world with the people of the internet, it also felt like people were craving this kind of stuff.”
“It was a release valve. A pressure gauge being released. That was something that took hold as we were making it.”
You can judge “Life Itself” for yourself now, as it has just been released into cinemas.