By Naseem Ally. ‘Such A Funny Life’ directed by Oliver Mann centres on a stand up comic, David Gutierrez, from New York who brings the laughs on stage, but offstage his life is no laughing matter. David is in dire straits.
He suffers from the loss of his sister and has to take care of his autistic mother Mariah, who is living in constant fear of his father, Ralph. With David having to deal with all this, comedy ends up becoming his escape.
Rob, a childhood friend that David confides in offers support along the way. However, Rob has the tendency to take things to the extreme. He offers David a hand in making his father ‘disappear’ if need be. Will their friendship get tested?
There are some great shots in Such A Funny Life, particularly the sequences for the opening credits. A beautiful timelapse of the Los Angeles skyline at night really set the tone. The city where every budding comic and actor flocks to, looking to get their big break in the city of Angels.
There seemed to be some references to ‘8 mile’ but I don’t know if it was the director’s intention. It was reminiscent to the opening scenes of Eminem in the bathroom pumping himself up before going on stage. This is David’s one shot. His one opportunity. But thankfully, for him at least, there is no ‘mom’s spaghetti’.
David played by Gonzalo Trigueros gave a solid display and captured the essence of someone down on their luck, looking for a glimmer of hope. In the film, David says ‘I’m really trying to find the things that make me smile’. In response to this, his mother replies ‘Do something funny. Do a show for me, you and Gabby’. Unfortunately, in Mariah’s state, she is unable to comprehend that her daughter is sadly no longer around.
In the supporting cast, a stand-up comic named Dale offers a word of advice. ‘Your perspective doesn’t count, these are people you don’t know…laughter is like all the cool kids wanting to hang out with you’. Even with the seed of doubt planted in his mind, David still has the desire to make it out of his situation and prove that he can make something of himself.
The lighting used adds depth to the film’s overall look. The hue from the mirror lights that reflect on David as he’s pumping up is a nice touch. There’s also an amber tinge on the stage he’s performing on which is also visually appealing.
The contrast of New York and L.A is reflected in the mood of the film which is noticeable throughout. From the looks of it, some thought has been put into the portrayal of David’s dark, gritty and traumatic past. It really does capture his life in inner-city New York.
Supplemented with a fitting musical score, it paints the picture of having a positive outlook in the face of adversity. The score feels like it could fit on a playlist alongside the likes of MGMT and Empire Of The Sun. During the transitions, the electronic and spacey sounds work well and add a sense of eeriness at certain points in the film.
A hiccup for this film is in the editing. In particular, when David has a flashback to his time in school and the words ‘Queens, New York – PAST’ appear. To me, it felt a bit, well, ‘cheap’. ‘Queens, New York – 1989’ for instance, would have been better.
With a running time of just over eighty-three minutes, this is a digestible film. It manages to draw you into David’s life within the first fifteen minutes and doesn’t feel like a drag.
Underneath all this lies a level headed, relatable character who is somewhat of a social outcast, looking for acceptance through bringing people together to laugh. Even if it’s at his own expense.
Little do they know, behind closed doors, David’s life is a very sad tale.
After all, in the words of Dale, ‘laughter is like all the cool kids wanting to hang out with you’.
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