We’ve heard of policing the police. Now comes criticizing the critics. Dan Fogelman, the This Is Us creator whose new film Life Itself has fallen victim to mostly scathing reviews, is defending the movie against when he labels as “white male critics who don’t like anything that has any emotion.”
In an interview with TooFab, the filmmaker — who, for the record, is both white and male — said he has noticed a “disconnect” between movie reviewers and audiences. “I think a couple of the early reviews that have come out about [Life Itself] 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,” he told the site. “There’s a disconnect between something that is happening between our primarily white male critics who don’t like anything that has any emotion.”
Noting that the same thing is happening with TV critics, he added: “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.”
Billed as a film that examines the perils and rewards of everyday life, Life Itself revolves around a New York couple (Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde) that goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child. The movie follows the unexpected twists of their journey and how they create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes.
Fogelman, whose film currently has just an 11% fresh rating from 65 reviews on aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, also criticized the critics for writing that his work is “emotionally manipulative” whenever his characters “go through anything.”
Emotion certainly is the key word for Fogelman’s recent success with This Is Us, the Emmy-nominated NBC series that has snagged huge ratings since its September 2016 bow. The tear-jerking ensemble drama finished the 2017-18 season as broadcast TV’s No. 1 primetime series among the 18-49 demo and was fourth in total viewers.
Life Itself opens wide Friday via Amazon Studios.