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Defending Your Life Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Defending Your Life” is Albert Brooks at his best.

Daniel is having a birthday and he’s celebrating by buying a new BMW. Alas, his bday celebration is cut short when he ends up dying in a car accident. Daniel awakens to find himself in a sort of purgatory dubbed Judgment City. It is here where Daniel finds his life being judged to see if he’s ready to “move forward” or if he should return to Earth in a new body to try again. As his 9 day trial lingers on, Daniel meets a kind hearted recently deceased woman (Julia) and the two begin to fall for one another. What will be Daniel’s fate? Is his new relationship doomed?

Written and directed by Albert Brooks (who also stars in the main role as Daniel), 1991’s “Defending Your Life” is much more than just a high concept romantic comedy. It’s a clever and observant film about life, fear, intelligence, death, and love that also contains a unique take on the afterlife from the mind of Brooks. More than that, however, it’s a poignant story about humanity through all of its ups and downs. It’s the type of movie that might even make you re-examine your own life.

There’s a trio of fantastic performances here by Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep and Rip Torn. Brooks is his usual witty self here, but he also gives the character of Daniel a great deal of depth. The character grows and has a true arc here. You root for him warts and all. Meryl Streep is utterly charming as the saintly Julia that is seemingly liked by everyone (especially Brooks). Rip Torn shines as Daniel’s uber smart defense attorney Bob Diamond.


Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The 4K digital restoration gives this print stunning clarity. 

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? This is a satisfactory Mono track. The score by Erroll Garner and Michael Gore is especially noteworthy here.

* “Defending Your Life” trailer
* “Spending Time In Judgment City”- An interview with theologian and critic Donna Bowman who talks about the world of Judgment City.
* 12 minutes of interview footage with Albert Brooks, Rip Torn and Lee Grant from the “Crook And Chase” talk show
* A booklet with credits and an essay by director Ari Aster.
* An insightful newly recorded 28 minute conversation between Albert Brooks and director Robert Weide. Easily the best extra here.

March 12, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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