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There’s always a certain weight that comes with the phrase “based on a true story,” but rarely do movies take the form All My Life does. The Universal Pictures release directed by Marc Meyers captures the essence of a legacy left by the relationship of Soloman Chau and Jennifer Carter, a Canadian couple who decided to get married amidst a dire ticking clock. The romantic drama is not a biopic, but it does use the weight of it being based in fact to deliver an earnest message about what it means to truly love another person and live one’s life wholly.
Because the implications of finding true love and making the most of one’s life is such an inherently human desire, Hollywood (and society really) has marketed these ideals in a fashion that is so cliché that it’s easy to forget the difference between fantasy and palpable truth. If All My Life had been based on a romance novel, it’s easier to brush it off. But it’s refreshing to be inspired by someone’s real, actually inspiring love story for a change. It’s a context that allows the viewer to actually interact with their feelings on romance, “I do’s” and how valuable a moment could mean to someone in the grand scheme of a lifetime.
There’s great chemistry between Jessica Rothe, Harry Shum Jr and the cast.
Aside from its moving true story, All My Life’s greatest attribute is Happy Death Day star Jessica Rothe. Just as she elevated the pair of Blumhouse’s slasher comedy movies, Rothe’s charisma elevates this heavy romance story by balancing a combination of the film's intense emotions with welcomed levity in a beautiful way. Rothe’s character takes the good with the bad, just as one might say on the altar in white. And her partner is Glee actor Harry Shum Jr, who dances along with her throughout the film’s rough terrain. The actor has a difficult role, who is balancing the grief of his liver cancer diagnosis and staying in the moment. It’s completely different territory for Shum – though he does at one point lead an understated flash mob proposal years after being a part of grandiose choreographed music numbers on the hit TV series.
The couple are joined by an all-star cast from all walks of Hollywood, including SNL’s master impressionist Jay Pharoah, Pitch Perfect’s Chrissie Fit and even The Greatest Showman’s Keala Settle. Sadly, it cannot really call itself an ensemble film despite its overflow of talent. The script doesn't quite know what to do with this array of supporting roles, and they are primarily reduced to the equivalent of the background of wedding pictures instead of serving as the bridesmaids and groomsmen to a hefty film carried on the shoulders of Rothe and Shum.
For a movie about savoring every moment, All My Life is quite rushed.
The underutilization of the All My Life ensemble is part of a larger problem in the movie in regards to it being pressured through into 93 minutes when there was plenty there is plenty of material to draw out the film longer. The movie sets up a relationship from its first date to its last days, bookended by a voiceover from Rothe talking about the importance of moments. Yet All My Life does not savor these moments it’s so high on getting the audience to appreciate. Its pacing is much too rushed, perhaps missing its potential capacity to truly get its viewers bawling by the end.
All My Life leaves behind a memorable message.
All My Life is not a great film from a technical perspective, and likely won’t go down in history in the greatest hits of the movie romance, but still it's strong message highlighted through the central relationship shines through. Harry Shum Jr and Jessica Rothe’s Soloman Chau and Jennifer Carter are not carbon copies of their counterparts and audiences either aware or not aware of the true story will come away from this movie appreciating what the story stands for. And perhaps, seeing our world’s often morphed and manufactured view on love and the ‘you only live once’ bumper sticker message from the perspective of authentic hindsight. All My Life is a kick in the gut of a film lined with a lighthearted soul.