Cheesy, sappy romantic dramas aren’t entirely my cup of tea and most especially ones where you know immediately off – doom is in the cards for one of them. You’ll almost certainly have seen romantic dramas that deal with terminal illnesses as it’s a storyline that is really overplayed in Hollywood and ALL MY LIFE (2020) from Marc Meyers is just this story. Almost from the start, you know what’s coming, and the film knows it too as the film follows the romance between Jennifer Carter (Jessica Rothe) and Solomon “Sol” Chau (Harry Shum Jr). Things seem to be going well for them after they meet at a bar, and they have a sweet little series of dates where they fall right off into ‘that’ couple.
We all know the clichés: have to constantly be together, holding hands, laughing at each others jokes, sitting on laps etc. We also learn that Sol works with digital media and is also a wannabe-chef and Jennifer does other things that’ll surely be interesting at some point but we never really find out what that is so touché’ on that one. They move in together so Sol can save up some money and get into his dream job so Sol eventually quits his job and takes that dream job as a chef and proposes to Jennifer and immediately we find out one of them is ill and since this is based on a true story and it can be easily looked up, it’s Sol that has liver cancer. With the help of family and friends, they start a GoFundMe campaign…for the wedding! Not the medical bills they can’t afford but of course a $20,000 wedding that happens two weeks later.
ALL MY LIFE fails itself in two large and very definitive ways. First, it definitely leans more on how everything is impacting Jennifer, we get many more shots of her trying to cope with the trauma of the cancer diagnosis and in an odd way, she makes herself out to be the victim even though you know, it’s Sol’s diagnosis and him who has to deal with it. There is one sappy -you see it coming from a mile away moment- where he says if it’s bad news they will get a dog, later in the film, he shows up with a dog. All along Sol doesn’t get nearly the time to say how any of this is impacting him as again, it’s kind of all about Jennifer. I don’t know if this part really happened is or is liberties the writers made up and ran with, but it doesn’t played out well. The best thing to come out of this film is it’s about an interracial couple with an Asian male lead that never makes you even think twice about it.
ALL MY LIFE is based on true story and yes it can show a grim awareness of a how sickness like cancer can affect any one at any age and be terribly difficult to deal with – but the acting here by the leads Rothe & Shum Jr along with their lack of chemistry, is almost as bad as the sentiment of it all, which comes across poorly and neither lead offers any real depth to their roles. The script is just too weak to do justice to the theme or to sustain 90-odd minutes on a big screen. Saving grace are some colorful supporting players like Jay Pharaoh as one Shum’s friends Dave, Chrissie Fit as one Rothe’s friends Amanda, Ever Carradine as Gigi a restaurant owner who hires Sol, and a brief cameo from Mario Cantone as a wedding organizer.
ALL MY LIFE wraps up quickly like it’s giving you the barest minimum required to tell its story, with everything handled like we’re in a hurry because there just isn’t enough time to try and let things have an impact or give you time for emotions and that’s where it loses its audience as a tearjerker, because you never feel like tears are necessary.