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The Hollywood Insider Live is Life Review

Photo: ‘Live is Life’

Netflix generally knocks it out of the park when it comes to many of their streaming shows. Many of their original series titles, ‘Squid Game,’ ‘The Witcher,’ and ‘Strangers Things’ to name a few, have been of stellar quality and have cemented the streaming service as a force to be reckoned with in producing and distributing top-notch multi-episode content.  Their original films, on the other hand, have been far less worthy of remembrance.  Once every few years, Netflix will give us a film such as ‘Okja’ or ‘Beasts of No Nation,’ but for every one of those films the streaming platform gives us fifty films like ‘The Royal Treatment.’  This leaves us wondering when Netflix subscribers might be blessed with the next ‘Beasts of No Nation’ or ‘Okja.’ 

Unfortunately, Netflix’s newest Spanish film ‘Live is Life’ is not that type of movie.  While the film is not without a few delightful and heartfelt moments, its drawbacks, primarily the lack of a story structure with rising action and conflict, make it feel longer than its hour and fifty-minute runtime.  Usually not a very good sign when a film feels longer than it actually is.  The film is directed by Dani de la Torre and written by Albert Espinosa.  

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 ‘Live is Life’ – A Few Bright Moments Sprinkled Throughout

The film stars Adrian Baena, Raul del Pozo, Javier Casellas, Juan del Pozo, and David Rodriguez as five friends who spend a summer vacation together before they part ways for adulthood.  The group attempts to seek out an almost mythical flower that is said to contain certain properties that can supposedly heal certain physical ailments.  This backstory surrounding the flower is mentioned at various points in the film, but mostly takes a back seat to watch these characters simply enjoy their summer vacation together.  This aspect of the film does yield some fairly heartfelt moments.  

For one, the interaction between the friends in the group does carry much of the same vibe as that of ‘The Goonies’ or ‘It.’ That element could have brought so much more to the film, but was little more than wasted potential, unfortunately.  There are beats that are charming enough to melt the hearts of the viewer to some extent.  For instance, without spoiling too much, at a certain point in the film, the group finds a baby girl and takes turns watching over her throughout the film. This may not have had any significance to the overall story, whatever of that there was, but for a simple narrative beat on its own, it was heartwarming to watch this group of young friends watch over this abandoned infant.  Daniel de la Torre, the director, may very likely have been trying to convey some type of thematic message with this subplot, but whatever that might have been, it wasn’t necessarily demonstrated as effectively as it could have been. 

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But again, it was heartwarming enough to watch.  Other plot points, such as one character’s health issues or another’s family problems, did feel at times like they could have added some emotional weight to the story but, once again, felt like untapped emotional tools.  All the elements of this film that felt like they could have worked better than they did were all held back by the same factor: the lack of any real structure or escalating conflict.

Lack of a Story

While it is fun at times to watch this group of friends enjoy their summer, the film drags for most of its one-hour and fifty-minute run time because it really doesn’t build up to anything.  The plot is simple: this group of teens wants to find a plant that can heal one of their friends with cancer as well as one of their dads in a coma.  However, the film doesn’t really do anything to build up to this journey or add any extra stakes or conflict to anything that is going on in the action.  Everything happens on a plateau instead of a rising hill.  At random points in the film, the teens hide or come into conflict with a gang of bikers that frequently harasses them and ruins their summer.  These are probably the most suspenseful moments in the entire film.  Much of the interactions between the group members use unoriginal lines of dialogue, which felt like they could have used just a bit more thought and creativity.  An example of this is when all five friends put their hands together and shout, “All together always!” This felt like something seen countless times before in films of a similar genre and narrative.  

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The film could definitely have found a way to work around having a traditional eight-sequence structure.  Many films and screenwriters have played with the rules of the standard three-act structure and have sometimes yielded great results (Quentin Tarantino has become the king of this art).  But this film did not take advantage or play around with what we recognize as a basic story structure.  Instead, it felt as if it was simply going along and felt it did not need any real conflict or stakes.  In storytelling, conflict can come in many forms.  A story about a group of friends who are trying to save their loved ones from life-threatening injuries and ailments should certainly utilize its stakes to their fullest capability.  This movie did not do that, which might be the real disappointment of the film.  In other words, ‘Live is Life’ had the potential to be a much stronger film but, despite a few delightful moments and potentially emotional elements, squandered much of the subjects and themes it tried to touch on with a sorely lacking throughline in its narrative.  

Directed by: Dani de la Torre

Written by: Albert Espinosa

Cast: Adrian Baena, Raul del Pozo, Javier Casellas, Juan del Pozo, David Rodriguez

By Nader Chamas

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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