"Life Itself," the new big screen drama from "This Is Us" creator Dan Fogelman, has been billing itself as an emotional, uplifting movie about human connection. Unfortunately for Fogelman, it's getting absolutely pummeled by critics -- so much so that the director has called out one group in particular as being especially unfair to the flick.
The film opened to awful reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, and has been accruing pans left and right ever since. It currently holds a 12 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 21 on Metacritic.
But to Fogelman, that reaction seems "so out of left field" to the "Life Itself" creative team, as he explained in an interview with TooFab.
"There's a disconnect between something that is happening between our primarily white male critics who don't like anything that has any emotion," Fogelman told the site.
"Something's happened with these 10 people who kind of speak in this 'group speak' and say [my work is] 'emotionally manipulative' every time they [see] anything where [my] characters go through anything," Fogelman added. "And it's concerning because it is important, it tells people what to go see. I don't feel that often now our pop and film critics are speaking for a sophisticated audience anymore."
Fogelman may disagree, and have a particular ax to grind with white males (a group of which he is a member, oddly enough), but almost every critic who's seen to film so far -- regardless of race or gender -- has panned it. It's being called "manipulative and contrived" (Variety's Jessica Kiang); "overwhelmed by schmaltz" (RogerEbert.com's Monica Castillo); "smugly satisfied with its own cleverness" (Entertainment Weekly's Dana Schwartz) and "bad enough to make you question life itself" (the hilarious headline from Slate's review by Inkoo Kang).
To be fair to Fogelman, though, probably one of the harshest reviews came from Rolling Stone's resident white male critic, Peter Travers, who gave the film zero stars and declared it the worst movie of 2018. The "cinematic black hole," according to Travers, is "a blithering botch job" that devolves into "a hellish blaze of gross incompetence, crass tear-jerking, unrelenting tragedy porn, unearned self-congratulation and leaden dialogue that hits you like a blunt force trauma." (And that's just the from the first paragraph of the scathing review.)
Suffice it to say, fans will have to see for themselves whether or not they agree with the critics. At least Fogelman will have the success of "This Is Us" to fall back on if "Life Itself" falls short.
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