Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

Movie Review - Defending Your Life

April 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 196

In the full-length feature film Defending Your Life, writer-actor-director Albert Brooks plays advertising executive Daniel Miller, who is killed at the onset of the film when his just- driven- off-the-lot BMW collides with a city bus. Daniel "awakens" in Judgment City, a beautifully picturesque mini-metropolis where the residents are housed in upscale hotels while they enjoy perfect weather and all you can eat for free accommodations daily, without gaining a pound. What is also evident upon Daniel's meeting Julia is that the grandiosity of accommodations varies depending upon the character one displayed while alive.

We soon discover the purpose of Judgment City: this is a sort of pleasant purgatory where the residents are evaluated in terms of the content of their lives, in part to determine the ultimate destination or fate of each resident. It is explained to us (and Daniel) by his equivalent of a defense attorney, Bob Diamond (Rip Torn), that one is judged and then either allowed to proceed to that "better place" if deemed worthy, or sent back to Earth in some other form of life to try again and again, until one "gets it right."

During his stay in Judgment City, our leading man meets Julia (Meryl Streep) and is instantly drawn to her. A wonderfully beautiful woman with all the attributes that any reasonable man would find desirable, she is likewise drawn to Daniel. Our leading lady is there for the same purpose as Daniel, and yet, her experience at Judgment City seems to be one of wonder and anticipatory joy, while Daniel appears much more serious (as he is portrayed in life, depicted by the clips of his life being played out before him and the others involved in the "trial that isn't a trial") and uncertain. What the main character of the film discovers is that he is more in love with Julia than he has ever been with anyone in life. Daniel's concern that he and Julia will not end up in the same place is intensified as the "prosecutor" continues to portray Daniel as someone who never really lived; who was always uncertain and fearful, and therefore not suitable to proceed on to that "better place."Daniel is visibly dismayed by this prospect, as it becomes increasingly clear that Julia will "move on" without him. As Daniel watches Julia's trial, the "court" fawns and generally approves of the images of Julia in life. One scene in particular points to Julia's strength of character when she reenters the burning family house to save their beloved cat, only after escorting her children to safety first. In contrast, Daniel is viewed as a wimp (initially during a playground altercation while he is in elementary school, later as a hesitant investor who misses a huge opportunity due to his apprehension), and dishonest in the scene in which Daniel takes the blame for another student losing school supplies. Ultimately, he is punished by the school, and under cross-examination by his father, crumbles in telling the truth of what had actually happened. In later scenes, Daniel is consistently painted as fearful. Although he and his wife rehearse the next day's salary negotiation in which Daniel is to be firmly assertive, in the actual interview the hiring manager makes an initial offer that Daniel quickly and submissively accepts (far below what he had wanted). The successive clips that the court reviews are in a similar vein; in every situation that he has a chance to shine, our hero is too fearful of consequences to take any positive action. In every instance, our heroine is portrayed in a much more flattering light. The negativity and pervasiveness of fear, guilt, and self-doubt very much on display in contemporary American culture serve as an albatross around our necks, affecting the outcomes of virtually any circumstance of scenario that we face in life. The authors of the text, Life Lessons, point out that "Fear is a shadow that blocks everything: our love, our true feelings, our happiness, our very being" (Kubler-Ross and Kessler, 2000).

The theme of the movie, in perfect synchronicity with the assigned reading material of this class, seems to be relatively clear in my humble opinion. We are all so busy trying to leave our mark on this (at times overwhelming) rat race that we often don't take the time to truly live. If one were to analyze the message of this film or either of the textbooks that are required reading for this class on a deeper, more profound level, the suggestion appears to be that if we all lived life as if each day could be our last, that fulfillment would be a given, or at least more easily attainable. It is awfully easy to become so wrapped up in our daily pursuits, trials and tribulations that we find ourselves aging with the regret of never having done those things that we had most wanted to do.

Daniel never learns to live while living. It is only after death and his experience at Judgment City that he realizes that his life was one so analytical and calculated, so fearful of consequences, that he never attained any real measure of happiness. He apparently had all the material successes that any rational person could really want or need, and yet he was obviously not fulfilled to any degree of significance. Julia on the other hand, as is evident in her sunshine and lollypops demeanor throughout the film, was not nearly as serious or as calculated as our leading man during her time on Earth. She is, in fact, someone who knew instinctively that one has to play and relax from time to time, so as not to take life too seriously. Her persona comes across as much more genuine than that of Daniel. Somewhere around the middle of the movie, it becomes clear that Daniel is lamenting the realization that he seemingly never faced his various fears. We know from reading the text, Life Lessons by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, that fear and/or guilt can paralyze us in more ways than one if we allow it to happen. According to the authors, "When we face the worst that can happen in any situation, we grow. When circumstances are at their worst, we can find our best. When we find the true meaning of these lessons, we also find happy, meaningful lives" (Kubler-Ross, and Kessler, 2000).

Another striking difference between Daniel and Julia is that he is seemingly haunted by the regret that going through life in "white-knuckle" fashion may foster when looking objectively back at the life he lived. Julia, although conceding that she misses her children, doesn't seem to carry that baggage with her. In the end, she seems to have lived a much more fulfilling life (apparently the folks at Judgment City agreed), in general, than our fearfully contemplative hero.

My website is currently under construction. I am available for training advice and the like at robthirty06@yahoo.com

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

 
0
 
0
 
Rate this Article
 vote(s)
Feedback
Print
Re-Publish

Article Tags:

Judgment City

,

Defending Your Life

,

Albert Brooks

,

Merryl Streep

,

Movie Reviews

,

Macabre Comedy

,

Rip Torn

It is true that a photo booth hire cannot actually replace a camera but you will never run short of photographs if you think of photo hire.It is true that a photo booth hire cannot actually replace a

By: Simon Liva l Arts & Entertainment > Photography l November 21, 2012 lViews: 268

Well-known director Pascal Laugier is once again all set to frighten his fans with another dreadful affair, The Tall Man. The spooky thriller has been produced by Clément Miserez, Kevin DeWalt,

By: rose jasmin l Arts & Entertainment > Movies TV l November 02, 2012 lViews: 262

The Good Wife is an American legal drama series. It was first broadcasted on CBS on 22nd September, 2009. It is the creation of Robert King and Michelle King. It is produced by the Kings, Ridley and

By: Monu Mani l Arts & Entertainment > Movies TV l November 01, 2012 lViews: 259

ICarly in an American teens show created by Dan Schneider who is also the executive producer of the show. this show is about a girl named Carly Shay who along with her best friends Sam and Freeddie

By: elvis l Arts & Entertainment > Movies TV l October 25, 2012 lViews: 265

Love stories are supposed to be full of romance, seduction and enduring love. As these funny love stories show, however, these stories can also be filled with laughter. Fortunately, shared laughter

By: Jasmine Montford l Arts & Entertainment > Humor l October 25, 2012 lViews: 312

Lost is an American television science fictional series that is full of mystery, adventure and supernatural drama. It was originally broadcasted on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010,

By: ramandeep l Arts & Entertainment > Movies TV l October 25, 2012 lViews: 337

Well-known director Pascal Laugier is once again all set to frighten his fans with another dreadful affair, The Tall Man. The spooky thriller has been produced by Clément Miserez, Kevin DeWalt,

By: rose jasminl Arts & Entertainment > Movies TVl November 02, 2012 lViews: 262

The Good Wife is an American legal drama series. It was first broadcasted on CBS on 22nd September, 2009. It is the creation of Robert King and Michelle King. It is produced by the Kings, Ridley and

By: Monu Manil Arts & Entertainment > Movies TVl November 01, 2012 lViews: 259

ICarly in an American teens show created by Dan Schneider who is also the executive producer of the show. this show is about a girl named Carly Shay who along with her best friends Sam and Freeddie

By: elvisl Arts & Entertainment > Movies TVl October 25, 2012 lViews: 265

Lost is an American television science fictional series that is full of mystery, adventure and supernatural drama. It was originally broadcasted on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010,

By: ramandeepl Arts & Entertainment > Movies TVl October 25, 2012 lViews: 337

“Victorious” is a teenage American situational dramedy. It is an episodic series. It revolves about a teen age girl named Tori who is a student in Hollywood Arts High School. She is a very good

By: jamessharlinl Arts & Entertainment > Movies TVl October 25, 2012 lViews: 215

Victorious is a prominent American series. It is created by Dan Schneider. It is telecasted on Nickelodeon. The story deals with the lives of an ambitious singer Tori Vega and her elder sister Trina.

By: jamessharlinl Arts & Entertainment > Movies TVl October 24, 2012 lViews: 231

What is it about the condition of man that allows for the wholesale slaughter of entire ethnic groups of people? How could the people of Eastern Europe, and specifically Pols and Germans not have

By: Rob Rayburn Jrl News & Society > Pure Opinionl April 17, 2012 lViews: 165

There can be little doubt that the upcoming elections are the most significant and important certainly that my generation has ever seen. Regardless of your personal convictions, whether liberal or

By: Rob Rayburn Jrl News & Society > Politicsl April 17, 2012 lViews: 125

Discuss this Article

comments powered by Disqus