“This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman premiered his latest movie “Life Itself” at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it got panned by film critics and received some of the worst reviews of the year (the movie holds a 14% on Rotten Tomatoes from 42 reviews). The director was asked by TooFab about the reviews, to which he responded by sharing his belief that “something is inherently a little bit broken in our film criticism right now.”
“I think that the people with the widest reach are getting increasingly cynical and vitriolic and I think there are a couple of genres and a couple of ideas that they [attack, which] doesn’t speak to not just a mainstream audience, but also a sophisticated audience,” Fogelman said, while also noting a similar thing is happening in television criticism.
Fogleman continued, “A couple of the early reviews that have come out about this movie feel so out of left field to everybody who’s a part of this movie and to people who have been screening this film for the better part of a year now to both fancy filmmakers, critics, and audiences. There’s a disconnect between something that is happening between our primarily white male critics who don’t like anything that has any emotion.”
Referring to the “white male critics who don’t like anything that has any emotion,” Fogelman criticized them for saying his work is “emotionally manipulative” every time they see storylines where his characters “go through anything.”
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“It’s concerning because it is important, it tells people what to go see,” Fogelman said of critics. “I don’t feel that often now our pop and film critics are speaking for a sophisticated audience anymore.”
Unfortunately for Fogelman, white male critics like Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune (one star our of four), A.O. Scott of The New York Times (he calls the movie “utter balderdash”), and Brian Truitt of USA Today (one-and-a-half stars out of four) are hardly the only ones to pan “Life Itself.” IndieWire’s Kate Erbland gave the movie a “D” grade, calling it a “demented, morbid epic built on bad storytelling.” Hunter Harris of Vulture refers to “Life Itself” as “rubble,” while Mara Reinstein of US Weekly says it’s “overwrought” and Kristen Page-Kirby of The Washington Post calls it a “giant letdown” in her two-star review.
“Life Itself” stars Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde in the story of a couple whose relationship connects with others across the globe and across generations. Ironically, white male critic Pete Hammond Amazon Studios releases the drama in theaters September 21.