You would be hard pressed to find a more wildly diverse group of films than the last four made by director Marc Meyers. In 2017 he made “My Friend Dahmer”, a biopic about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer￼’s high school years. Next he made the blood-soaked horror-dark comedy “We Summon the Darkness”. And earlier this year he released “Human Capital”, a family drama, crime thriller, and mystery all wrapped into one. So what’s the fourth film you ask? Meyers’ latest is “All My Life”, a warm and fuzzy tearjerker. See, diverse.
“All My Life” (written by Todd Rosenberg) is based on the true relationship of Solomon Chau and Jennifer Carter. The film is carried by the expressive Jessica Rothe, a talented rising star with a pretty diverse resumé of her own. Here she plays Jenn, a young woman who has spent most of her life looking ahead but rarely living in the moment. Everything changes when she goes to a sports bar with friends and has that chance meeting of a lifetime (dramatic music swells) with Solomon (Harry Shum Jr.), a hunky amateur chef. The very next day the two go out for a jog, sparks fly, and off we go.
The first half of “All My Life” is a sweet and fairly grounded story of a young couple falling in love, moving in together, and setting their eyes on a future together. There’s a really nice chemistry between the two leads and a surprising amount of heart which makes them not only a likable couple but people we feel good about rooting for. Everything is ideal in these early scenes and they’re even shot with this radiant storybook glow. We get the tender romantic moments, some hip music, and eventually a flash mob marriage proposal sequence with enough cheese to clog every artery.
But then there’s the second half where their modern day romance is cut short after Sol is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. It’s the flip-side of the story that we know is coming from the start. Meyers doesn’t go deep into the internal conflicts or dive into themes like mortality and fate. Instead he keeps it mostly on the surface, offering plenty of tissue-worthy moments while (thankfully) avoiding the annoying sap that you may get in a Nicholas Sparks flick. Meyers and Rosenberg make their film all about living. More specifically, about making the most out of the time you’re given.
With the help of their fun but nondescript group of friends, Jenn and Sol decide to go ahead with their wedding, determined to make every day they have together memorable. The film wisely doesn’t gloss over the bumps in the road. “People will see a widow in white,” Sol tells Jenn during one particularly dark and crushing scene. But the film mostly keeps its head up as the friends start a GOFUNDME account to cover expenses and help Jenn and Sol have the best wedding possible under the circumstances.
Despite its best efforts there are still those gooey moments that seem custom made for the movies rather than plucked from real life. But every time the film gets too close to schmaltzy Meyers is able to rein it back in. And while we could have learned more about their characters (does Sol even have a family???), there is an infectious charm to the young couple and this is a case of a film being helped by its ‘true story’ element. Sure it’s all pretty familiar and it misses opportunities to do something original. But it also avoids many of the usual trappings and has genuine heart, something quite honestly I wasn’t expecting. “All My Life” is now playing in theaters.
VERDICT – 3 STARS