LIFE Movie Review & Analysis

LIFE is the type of movie that gives you faith in Hollywood.  The term “popcorn flick” is generally derogatory and expecting good acting from one is usually a pipe dream.  LIFE, however, takes that stereotype and turns it on its head.

Daniel Espinosa directs an excellent cast led by Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson.  Together, they prove a suspenseful alien movie may be well made and fun.

Often, these movies create character backstories with the express purpose of generating sympathy before killing off a character.  What LIFE does well is keep this device from becoming overly manipulative.  The story is clearly not in the character’s backgrounds, but the action on screen.  By keeping the backstory simple, it doesn’t detract from the real reason for buying a ticket: two hours of entertainment.

Casting Jake Gyllenhaal was a coups for LIFE, giving it indie film credibility to help elevate it from becoming “just” another alien movie.  Gyllenhaal garnered an Oscar nomination for his role in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and is known for selecting roles in interesting projects.

Ryan Reynolds, too, earned new respect with last year’s success of DEADPOOL, a character he worked to bring to the big screen for years.

Hiroyuki Sanada has won two awards from the Japanese Academy, the equivalent of the American Oscars.

In short, this cast served as more than place holders that absolutely anyone could have filled, as is frequently the case in this genre.  LIFE managed to transition from being a [derogatory] “popcorn flick” to a genuinely good suspense movie.  Perhaps, in fact, to the surprise of all involved.

For more about LIFE, take a look below:

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THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN Review & Analysis

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is based on best-selling novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins. It’s about a divorced woman who likes watching the homes in her old neighborhood as she rides the daily train. When one of the women she watches disappears, she gets involved on a personal level.

The movie stars Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney and Lisa Kudrow. It’s directed by Tate Taylor (THE HELP).

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN does everything right from a technical standpoint. Everyone’s acting is fantastic and the cinematography is particularly wonderful with some beautiful and unique shots. So, by most accounts that should make it a good movie. It really depends on your definition of good movie, though, because what stood out as much as the great technical details was just how unpleasant every single person was in the film. There was not one sympathetic character and I felt an equal amount of distaste for everyone.

I couldn’t help but think, too, that Emily Blunt is starting to develop a career out of characters who may be intriguing but who aren’t pleasant to be around, all the way back to her star-making role in DEVIL WEARS PRADA and including her role in SUNSHINE CLEANING as well.

There were lots of interesting parallels between and connecting the main characters in the movie. It reminded me a lot of Alfred Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, which I actually wrote a paper on in college talking about how the two strangers were connected in an X-shape, with each character “reaching out” to the other side. That’s how THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is also structured and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that one of the first things on screen is an X drawn in the condensation on the window of a train that we then see Emily Blunt’s eye through. The theme of X is continued with an email written by Tom and played across the screen as Rachel walks through a train station. I don’t want to give away too many details for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet, but definitely suggest paying attention to them.

For more about THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, take a look below:

 

—>Looking for the direct link to the video?  Click here.

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