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You might have heard about Life Itself by now, but probably not for any good reasons. The film, which follows multiple seemingly unconnected storylines about life, is being torn apart by critics. As it stands, the movie has a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the negativity is all the more crushing because Life Itselfi comes from Dan Fogelman, the creator of the NBC smash-hit This Is Us. Negative reviews can be tough to deal with for any filmmaker but Fogelman sounds like he's taking it as best he can, saying this about the bad reviews:
I think I just have a wildly different creative palette than the cynical film critic. And that's OK. I like different things than they like sometimes but not --- not in a bad way. My hope is that it will be warmly received in that way and kind of be able to split the difference of both worlds the way that [This Is Us] has.
I can imagine that its difficult for filmmakers to deal with any negative reviews about their movies, but when multiple critics are saying it's one of the worst films of the year? That can be soul-crushing, and plenty of directors and actors have had to deal with this blowback in the past. Dan Fogelman, who both wrote and directed Life Itself, now has to come to terms with this situation, and he told the LA Times that he thinks it boils down to him having a different "creative palette" than the critics who roasted the drama. Directors' responses to harsh reviews aren't always so graceful, but Fogelman seems accepting of the fact that not everyone is going to love Life Itself. Another way of reading that is the age-old "I didn't make this for critics" defense.
For the most part, reviews have not been kind to Life Itself across the spectrum. Here at CinemaBlend, though, we had more of a tempered response to Fogelman's work, giving the movie three out of five stars. The widespread meh-ness is likely not the reaction that Fogelman was hoping for, but he went on to say that he knows he's not going to get great reviews all the time.
Obviously, it's always disappointing, especially when it happens to something so personal to you. But it's the life I've chosen: Critics have generally been kind to me over the years, and part of the gig is that you don't get to pick and choose when you get to listen.
While critics can have the power to sway how a movie performs, bad reviews don't always mean low box office. Transformers movies, for example, usually get scores of bad reviews as they go on to make billions of dollars. Sadly, it seems that bad press did have some influence over the premiere of Life Itself, which opened outside of the top ten with $2.1 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
Having been acquired by Amazon Studios, Life Itself is in theaters right now if you feel like seeing what all the commotion is about.