Jaden Smith and Cara Delevinge star in the new movie “Life in a Year.” (Photo by Gwen Royle)
Jaden Smith and Cara Delevinge star in the new movie “Life in a Year.”

Photo by Gwen Royle

Head-to-Head Review: “Life in a Year”

December 13, 2020

“Life in a year” will leave you with a heart full of hope and I loved it

“Life in a year” is a heart-breaking romance between two unlikely lovers. It follows a young couple, Isabelle (Cara Delevigne) and Daryn (Jaden Smith). When Isabelle reveals she only has a year left to live, Daryn decides to fit all of the big landmarks of life into the short year they have together.

I loved so many things about this movie. 

First, the witty banter between Isabelle and Daryn made the movie impossible to pause. Even in the darkest of moments, Isabelle’s cold character paired with Daryn’s naivete made for humorous dialogue while also building the base for the dramatic elements of their relationship.

Their chemistry was undeniable. From the moment Isabelle and Daryn first shared the screen, it was clear how deep their emotional connection was, even if the dialogue would lead us to believe otherwise. 

Delevigne and Smith were the perfect choice for this film and they executed their roles flawlessly. They complemented each other so well and their performances were beyond convincing.

Throughout the movie, Daryn is struggling with the pressure from his father to make the perfect future for himself. In contrast, Isabelle is grappling with the fact that she does not have a future to plan for. Both of them play it off as though they are perfectly fine with their lives, but as the movie progresses, they begin to live the lives they want with the constant support of each other.

Critics of the movie might say it’s predictable, but we must remember that “Life in a year” is a romantic drama– a genre in which there are strict conventions. While they do break some, breaking too many conventions would distract from the plot and the beautiful relationship between the two teens.

A common critique of romantic dramas is that they are told from an incredibly privileged point of view. Writers Will Matthews and Jeffrey Addiss did an amazing job depicting the relationship from both Daryn’s entitled and Isabelle’s necessitous perspective. 

When a romance movie deals with class struggles, I always get nervous because of how easy it is to mess it up and ruin the film. I think that by putting Isabelle in the position of power in the relationship, they made it clear she wasn’t a poor damsel in need of saving by the rich kid. While both characters had an incredible arc in the film, Isabelle’s heart-wrenching journey from a hateful acceptance of her fate to living a life full of love will always stick with me.

I recommend this movie to anyone in need of a good cry or with a soft spot for romance. This film had the perfect blend of goofiness, wit, romance and heartbreak. It had me bawling my eyes out while also leaving me with a warm heart. 


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“Life in a Year” was predictable and not worth the watch

I had high expectations watching “Life in a Year” because my sister raved about it for days, but it simply did not reach the bar. The new movie was released Nov. 27 on Amazon Prime. The plotline consists of two teenagers who fall in love but Isabelle (Cara Delevigne) has terminal cancer. The other pea to the unlikely pod, Daryn (Jaden Smith), does everything he can to make Isabelle’s last year perfect, filling in all the major milestones that she will miss. 

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a cute storyline, but it is predictable. Although I only watched this movie once, I feel like I’ve seen it a thousand times. Daryn is rich and has it all, the sport, the smarts, and the money. Isabella, on the other hand, is poor and has nothing: no close intermediate family, no school, and a sickness that will, unfortunately, end her life early. Daryn’s father (Cuba Gooding Jr.) does everything in his power to end this relationship to focus on Daryn’s future but ultimately fails. 

People could say that what the two have is ‘romantic’. However, I’d care to disagree. Daryn tries everything he can to make Isabella happy and make her life smoother and, to me, it seems that she is unappreciative. She doesn’t want Daryn’s help when he is changing up his whole life because he loves her. Sure, he can over-step the line sometimes, but he is trying at their relationship more than she ever will. 

One positive side to the movie I’d like to point out is the music incorporation. Daryn has a hidden talent for rapping and Isabelle helps him to unleash it. Though one scene in particular I had to turn away from the screen because it was too cringy — when Daryn starts rapping in the middle of the ice cream shop professing his love to Isabelle a day after they met. But, other than that, it was pretty entertaining. Jaden Smith is an artist as well as an actor and I thought that his character’s love for music added a fun and new twist to an otherwise foreseeable movie. 

I am a very emotional person when it comes to movies. This movie was the first ‘sad’ movie I haven’t cried at since… I don’t remember when. If you want a movie to cry to, I’d recommend you watching “Five Feet Apart” or “Clouds” because “Life in a Year” didn’t give me the same heart-wrenching emotions as the other two did. 

“Life in a Year” was a hard pass for me. 


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