191. My Life

Movie: My Life

Release Date: November 12, 1993

Director: Bruce Joel Rubin

Starring: Michael Keaton, Nicole Kidman, Bradley Whitford, Haing S. Ngor, Queen Latifah.

Tag Lines: “Every moment counts.”

Relevance: I was already a Michael Keaton fan by the time ‘My Life’ was released in theaters in 1993. After all, he was Batman. So when I saw the trailer for this emotional drama, I knew I had to see it as soon as humanely possible. I was in my first semester of Graduate school when I went to the theater to see it with my then fiance. We knew it was going to be dramatic. We knew it would be emotional. I mean, we loved sappy melodramas, but we got way more than we bargained for.

There were some light comedic moments in the film but overall a story of a man with a terminal form of kidney cancer wasn’t exactly a laugh riot. Thankfully there were those moments, because the movie would almost be unbearable without them. I started to tear up many times throughout the movie, but as the movie entered its final twenty minutes I felt something I have never, ever felt before watching a film. There were so many emotions welling up inside of me, I thought I was going to burst.

In one of the final scenes, Michael Keaton’s character’s father shaves him. It sounds weird, but it was actually a very touching, emotional scene. The audience in the theater was completely silent. You could hear a pin drop. My emotions were at a fever point when something unexpectedly happened. From five or six rows behind us, a movie goer completely lost it and started sobbing uncontrollably. We are talking loud, deep cries. It was very dramatic. I looked at my then fiance and we couldn’t help but start to chuckle. Afterwards, when we were leaving the movie, we talked about how close we both were to being that person. Never before had a movie made me feel so emotional.

Those feelings I had during the movie stayed with me for a long time afterwards. I actually spoke about the experience and wrote a paper about it for one of my graduate classes. Art is a real emotional trigger and something about that particular movie made me realize it for the first time. Movies had always made me happy or sad or excited before, but nothing like I experienced in the theater watching ‘My Life.’

Today’s Thoughts: As much as I love this movie, I really dreaded watching it today. Did I really want to watch a movie about a man with terminal cancer die in hospice care so soon after my mother went through a similar experience? No. But I did.

To say that this is a Kleenex movie is an understatement. I think I started crying during the opening credits and by the time the final scenes were playing, I was that person from the movie theater. Yes, I was a blubbering, sobbing idiot in my living room. I think I went through half a box of Kleenex. I knew today’s movie was going to be tough, but I am glad I soldiered through, because it really is a wonderful film.

Bruce Joel Rubin has been a name that has shown up on my list of most influential movies of all time twice before as a screenwriter (see 207. Jacob’s Ladder and 252. Deep Impact). ‘My Life’ was his directorial debut. He did also write the film. I have stated this before on my blog, but the man is one of my favorite screenwriters. His words, visions and insight on the subject of death are fascinating. As emotional as his films are, his words heal. And watching his art today helped heal a few of those fresh wounds.

The cast for the film is absolutely fantastic. Michael Keaton is really wonderful and although he had played dramatic roles before, he seemed to have really expanded his wheelhouse with ‘My Life.’ The comedy bits are played with his usual flair, but he really brings the emotion and it is a performance of which he should be very proud. Nicole Kidman was not someone I really knew when I first saw the film in 1993, but it made me notice her. I am now fully on board the Ms. Kidman acting train. She is one of my favorites and she is simply beautiful in this movie. Bradley Whitford, Haing S. Ngor, Queen Latifah and Rebecca Schull all give excellent supporting performances as well.

Although it is not a film that I watch a lot, ‘My Life’ is a strong picture that opened my eyes to how art can impact your emotions and psyche. Before I saw this movie, I was not much of a “crier” in movies. Now, I cry at pretty much everything. When I do, I am always reminded of ‘My Life.’

Ways to Watch: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, YouTube, DVD Availability.

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