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Defending Your Life (1991)Defending Your Life (1991)

Defending Your Life (1991)

An early 90s romcom with a contemplative, philosophical edge

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

7.4

movie

United States of America

English

A-list actors, Discussion-sparking, Funny

1991

Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks, Alex Sheafe, Art Frankel

112 min

Synopsis

Is there love after death? After he dies suddenly, the hapless advertising executive Daniel Miller finds himself in Judgment City, a gleaming way station where the newly deceased must prove they lived a life of sufficient courage to advance in their journey through the universe. As the self-doubting Daniel struggles to make his case, a budding relationship with the uninhibited Julia offers him a chance to finally feel alive.

Our Take

7.4
Oppie A

Written and directed by the film’s star, Albert Brooks, Defending Your Life imagines an afterlife in which purgatory is a courtroom, and whether you’ll be saved or damned is judged based on the life you led on Earth.

Did you live courageously, or did you live fearfully? Were you ashamed, meek, afraid of being vulnerable? Or did you risk some tender part of yourself in order to connect with others, to meaningfully impact another life?

Daniel Miller (Brooks) discovers he may not have lived as boldly as he assumed. In the afterlife and awaiting his day in afterlife court, he meets Julia (Meryl Streep, in what is possibly one of her most captivating roles), who is kind and thoughtful and a capital-G Good person. Of course, it’s only after dying that Daniel tunes in to the great possibility of a life not lived on autopilot. But is he too late to atone for his unexamined life—or is there time yet for a second chance?

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