January 18, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

‘All My Life’ review: Till death do them part

The Times is committed to reviewing theatrical film releases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because moviegoing carries risks during this time, we remind readers to follow health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

Fifty years after the film version of “Love Story” comes “All My Life,” another tale of a beautiful young couple whose brief love is cut short by a fatal disease. Although based on a real story, this new movie can’t help but traffic in the same sort of earnest schmaltz that made that 1970 Oscar winner such a crowd-pleasing weepie.

This is not to say that “All My Life,” directed by Mark Meyers, will prove as forgettable as its title. It’s a sensitive, glossy piece bound to affect younger, less jaded viewers who wouldn’t know Ali McGraw from Quick Draw McGraw and might easily sync with the natural charms of grad student Jennifer (a luminous Jessica Rothe) and nascent chef Sol (“Glee’s” Harry Shum Jr.) as they quickly move from meet-cute to joined-at-the-hip to shared domesticity to ill-fated marriage.

Like “Love Story,” however, we know how things will play out from the start (both films begin with a survivor’s voice-over), so it’s largely a waiting game. At around the 20-minute mark here, when a pained Sol announces he thinks he “pulled a muscle working out,” it quietly — inexorably — sets the stage for the liver cancer that will inform the last hour of the film and lead to its sad but true conclusion.

Writer Todd Rosenberg works hard to make the slender story as much about living life as succumbing to death. But there’s just so rosy a picture that can be painted, no matter how much ebullience is wedged in; the cute factor here can be a bit much.

The script also could have used another pass to sharpen some under-inspired dialogue and flesh out its many surface supporting characters. And doesn’t Sol have any family at all?

Still, Rothe and Shum Jr. have such nice, authentic chemistry that they should put it to good use again. Perhaps there’s a jaunty rom-com out there with their names on it.

‘All My Life’

Rated: PG-13 for brief language

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Starts Dec. 4 in general release where theaters are open; available Dec. 23 on PVOD