Jennifer Carter (Jessica Rothe) and Solomon Chau (Harry Shum Jr.) are a sweet, fun-loving, newly engaged couple who are ready to start their lives together. But when Solomon is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, their hopes for a summer wedding become impossible. With time running out, their friends and families soon devise an inspirational plan to help Jennifer and Solomon realize their dream wedding.
Sometimes the most effective movies end up having the most simplistic premises, and Marc Meyers’ new romantic comedy-drama All My Life is exactly that kind of movie. One minute you will be grinning from ear-to-ear at just how infectiously sweet Jennifer and Solomon’s relationship is, and the next you will be trying your absolute best to hold back tears that will inevitable come trickling down your cheeks.
To be honest with you, I had no idea what to expect before going in to see this film. As a matter of fact, I only wanted to see it because it stars Jessica Rothe in the leading role, who is one of my top five favorite actresses of all-time. Having first been exposed to her work in the Happy Death Day films and later on her other filmography, I became a fan in no time. And it’s genuinely shocking that she hasn’t risen to stardom the likes of Emma Stone and Margot Robbie have gotten to because she could absolutely hold her own in a scene with the megastars.
So I walked in expecting to see an excellent Jessica Rothe performance but I ended up leaving the theatre with so, so much more. All My Life may come across as a bit familiar and somewhat traditional to some moviegoers, and it’s true – this movie doesn’t do anything earth-shattering or groundbreaking in terms of a story or plotline, but where this film succeeds in heaps is its screenplay and character development.
Right from the moment Jennifer and Solomon meet in the beginning, I was hooked on their relationship and I couldn’t wait to see where it was going to blossom. The two seemed pitch-perfect and made for each other in every sense of the word. But they’re not the kind of fictitious couple that’ll make your eyes roll at just how corny and lovey-dovey they are. They genuinely love each other deeply and they feel like they complete one another.
And as syrupy sweet as this all sounds, it never gets to the point of over-the-top or silliness. It all feels so grounded in reality and it’s thanks to wonderful character development and overall, great writing in general from Todd Rosenberg who injected this script with an overwhelming amount of love, hope, and emotion.
But another reason as to why Jennifer and Solomon are as encapsulating as they are is because of the performances from both Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr., who deliver some career-best work here. Both of them have perhaps the greatest chemistry between any two actors of the entire year and they work marvelously off of one another.
Rothe radiates an immense sense of warmth and comfort and it’s nearly impossible to not smile when she is goofing around with her co-star Harry Shum Jr. on-screen. There is one scene in particular toward the third act in which Rothe has to act with an insane level of emotion and the scene that followed truly blew me away. Why Rothe has not yet won an Academy Award is anybody’s guess, but that needs to change in the near future.
Shum Jr. also feels so energetic and happy-go-lucky in the role of Solomon. He loves to cook more than any other hobby, but more than that, he loves Jennifer most of all. He will do absolutely anything if it makes her happy, and he also goes out of his way to do whatever he can to make her laugh.
So while All My Life can have a little bit of a problem with familiarity, it’s not a big deal because of how emotionally powerful and thought-provoking the whole thing is in the grand scheme of things. Its lead actors deliver some of the best performances of the year, and more than that, this film depicts a story that was inspired by true events. A love story that was stronger than anything on Earth.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief language
Directed by: Marc Meyers
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 4, 2020
Running Time: 91 minutes