Life Itself

Rated 2.0

Writer-director Dan Fogelman traces a parade of family tragedies through generations, beginning with a young couple (Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde) and the end of their marriage, then hopping over to Spain for a seemingly unrelated story with Antonio Banderas, Sergio Peres-Mencheta and Lorenza Izzo. Mandy Patinkin, Annette Bening and Olivia Cooke also drop by to do their earnest best. Fogelman pretends to offer the random kaleidoscope of real life, but his movie is riddled with the rankest Dickensian contrivances—without Dickens’ flair for vivid characters. Everybody yaps away in artsy-fartsy dialogue redolent of a bad Off-Off-Broadway play, with Fogelman shamelessly pushing every button he can find. This is the kind of movie that inspires almost religious devotion, but it’s weepy, manipulative claptrap.