Life Itself brings heartwarming Fogelman feels to TIFF

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Get ready to light some candles, grab a hot cup of cocoa, and curl up on a corner sofa with your loved ones, because Dan Fogelman is back to make you cry and muse about life in a deep way. Now that the Tangled and Cars 2 writer has milked cutesy Disney animation for all it’s worth (and that’s coming from a writer who has seen Tangled no fewer than one hundred times), he is taking a detour and now presents Life Itself, or Life Of Beautiful Americans Who Are Definitely Like You And Me.

Fogelman has been busy distilling all the heartwarming cliché of This Is Us into his latest film, which is set to premiere at Toronto International Film Festival in September, having its world premiere as a Gala Presentation. With a star-studded cast, it looks to be a warm, fuzzy romcom packed full of gorgeous actors reminding us that real life itself is nothing like this, but it’s probably worth watching for a bit of escapsim anyway.

A few theories have surfaced about what is actually going on plot-wise, but what’s abundantly clear is that this is a no-nonsense tearjerker for a family-friendly demographic. Not to be confused with the 2014 documentary about the life of Roger Ebert, Fogelman’s Life Itself stars Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas and Annette Bening, among others. If the trailer is anything to go on, it’s going to be fun if you enjoy seeing lovestruck Americans growing old together and learning more about the human condition.

The official synopsis for Life Itself is as follows:

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 in Life Itself.

Director and writer Dan Fogelman (“This Is Us”) examines the perils and rewards of everyday life in a multigenerational saga featuring an international ensemble… Life Itself celebrates the human condition and all of its complications with humor, poignancy and love.

The TIFF lineup this year already looks fantastic, though, with a number of films already appearing on the first slate. Felix Van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy, starring Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell, based on the bestselling memoirs by father and son David and Nic Sheff, chronicles the lives of a family affected by addiction over many years. Similarly, Steve McQueen’s Widows already looks to be a major contender, and Mia Hansen-Løve’s Maya will be up for a lot of press coverage.

Amazon Studios continue to confound my expectations with their productions. I strongly distrust them after financing the abomination that was Wonder Wheel earlier this year, or the upcoming LOTR TV remake – yet they continue to thrive with their bottomless pockets. This very same degenerate studio will release Life Itself theatrically on September 21, but until then it’s down to the big guns at TIFF to decide its fate. I’m not convinced it will make it far with the critics, but perhaps it’s just innocuous enough to slip past the board and emerge as a crowd-pleaser.

Sian Francis Cox
Sian is Flixist’s UK Editor and has written for sites including Escapist Magazine, Destructoid, and Film Enthusiast.