Defending Your Life (Albert Brooks – 1991) B

When Daniel (Albert Brooks) dies in a car accident he finds himself in a purgatory of sorts. He is assigned a lawyer and needs to defend his life in front of three judges. His specific actions distilled into a few incidents from his life that he re-visits and defends. In the end it is decided he either “moves on” to a different life form or gets sent back to earth for another life to learn more. While there he meets and falls in love with Julia (Meryl Streep) who is also on trial for her life choices. Besides the interesting idea this a sweet, smart comedy about the afterlife. It works on the strength and likeability of the leading characters and supporting ones (I especially liked Rip Torn who plays Daniel’s afterlife lawyer). It is also deeper than a silly comedy though. You would think the things that matter in your life are the big huge moments or decisions, horrible or great. In fact many of the items Daniel needs to speak to are small, seemingly not important decisions that are key to happiness, fulfillment and being a better person.

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