Life After Beth: Too Indie to be Mainstream, Too Mainstream to be Indie

By Dakota Cantwell

“Life After Beth” is a movie that lacks a place to fit in; feeling more like a cheap imitation of “Warm Bodies,” a movie that came out only a year before. It’s too indie to be mainstream and too mainstream to be indie. Packed with known actors, the movie has few moments that keep the viewers interested and lands its jokes even less.

“Life After Beth” follows Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan, “The Amazing Spiderman” and “Chronicle”) as he attempts to cope with the recent death of his girlfriend Beth Slocum (Aubrey Plaza, “Parks and Rec” and “Dirty Grandpa”).  Feeling unsure about how to remember her because their relationship was on the rocks toward her death, Zach floats through life, not feeling much reason to live. When Beth returns from the grave only days later, Zach’s life becomes of whirlwind of zombies, sex and mayhem.

Director Jeff Baena uses the film to make a statement about relationships, young love and life after love falls apart. His point, however, is lost in the confusion surrounding the rest of the characters in Zach’s  life. While Baena attempts to create quirky characters to add comedy and create unforseen sitcom like situations, their placement ends up destroying the viewer’s suspension of disbelief.

Many of the film’s jokes rely on the raunchy comedy that Plaza is known for performing in films like “Dirty Grandpa.” Despite her flavor of humor finding a strong footing with her castmates in “Dirty Grandpa,” her role as Beth is found to be uninspired and lacking her full range from other films. While still performing her role well, Plaza is not given much to work with beyond a hormonal teenager with anger issues.

The film does not entirely fail as many of it’s shots hold artistic value and help to convey the story of the film in a strong way. Whether Baena is shooting beachside for a late night concert or inside for family dinner, the cinematography is always top notch and helpful in understanding the confusion on the screen.

The soundtrack for the film plays into its indie roots by incorporating lots smooth jazz and the sounds of some lesser-known alternative bands. While the music fits well with the look and style of the film, it fails to make the movie stand out enough to hold the audience’s attention.

Dehaan and Plaza are joined in cast by John C Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines and Anna Kendrick. Despite the potential found in the strong cast, Baena fails to achieve little more than an artistically shot art piece that will be forgotten quickly after the credits roll.

“Life After Beth” is an interesting idea examining the struggles of young love ending that doesn’t land as intended and isn’t good for much more than artistic scenes that cost an hour and a half to see.

 

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