Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) is a successful businessman. He's happily
married, just bought a new BMW and he enjoys listening to his new CD player.
He's also just died in a car crash.
Your Life (1991)
Starring: Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, and
Brooks, who also directed and wrote the script, takes a look at what
happens to us when we die in Defending Your Life. According to Brooks,
you end up in Judgement City, where one's life is reviewed and judged
in a trial-like atmosphere. If it meets the requirements, the deceased
gets to move on. If it fails, the sentence is to return to Earth to try
again in a new life.
Daniel meets his attorney, Bob Diamond (Rip Torn), who assures him that
he is likely to move forward. However, his prosecutor, Lena Foster (Lee
Grant), is nicknamed 'the dragon lady', so Daniel feels he's got a reason
to be worried. Daniel's life is examined on a large screen, which allows
us to take a look at what got Daniel where he is. It becomes apparent
that Daniel's life has been full of fear, the one thing that those in
Judgement City check for failure to move forward on the spiritual time
Shortly after he gets into
Judgement City, which looks like a resort town, he meets Julia (Meryl
Streep). Julia is the epitome of "perfect." In
her flashbacks, she's full of confidence and poise; the total opposite
of Daniel. Of course, they fall in love. But there's just one drawback,
the stay in Judgement City only lasts three days. How will they make it
Brooks' script is full of wit and comments on life in general. He has
a knack for dialogue and humor that many films about relationships lack.
Since this movie has a fantasy element, it allows Brooks to paint with
a larger palette than his previous films (Modern Romance and Lost
had allowed. He can make broad comments on the way things appear to him.
In most cases, it's damn funny.
The scenes with Streep and Brooks are charming and sweet. Rip Torn is
hilarious as Bob Diamond. Lee Grant's role is limited; relegating her
to acting bitchy and sparring with Torn in mostly trite dialogue.
Your Life isn't perfect, but if you're willing to let Brooks
run with his view of the afterlife, it's well worth renting.
Shirley Maclaine, known for her views on the afterlife, appears in
a cameo. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)