Movie reviews: Defending Your Life

Elsa S. Customer suggests Defending Your Life (in Comedy). Maybe the most buoyant of Albert Brooks’ films, Defending Your Life stars Brooks himself as Daniel, a regular guy (okay, a regular dead guy) trying to muddle his way through the trials of the afterlife. He has five days in a brisk, businesslike limbo during which he must persuade heavenly magistrates that he is intelligent, centered, and — above all — fearless enough to continue to the next plane of existence. Shortly after arriving, Daniel meets Julia (Meryl Streep), a bright, vivacious woman clearly destined for advancement. Perhaps this sounds misty and mythical; I assure you it is anything but. Judgment City mimics a blandly idealized present-day Los Angeles, complete with excellent public transit, sushi bars, and strip malls, and Daniel’s defense counsel is played with glad-handing vigor by Rip Torn, a guffawing super-intelligent post-human in an expensive suit. Lee Grant is marvelous as the prosecutor: in her first scenes, she seems a polished, cordial viper, but the character deepens as the film progresses. Brooks is hilarious and stomach-churningly neurotic, as always, and the courtroom flashbacks to his life’s mistakes are both hysterical and utterly unnerving. Streep’s Julia gives us a chance to breathe in fresh air. She’s glorious to watch — radiant, charming, funny, and undeniably sexy.

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Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 2:24 am  Comments (1)  
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