Life, Above All Reviews

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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
September 15, 2011
A well-meaning but ploddingly earnest after-school special...
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 1, 2011
"Life, Above All" earns the tears it inspires. The film is about deep human emotions, evoked with sympathy and love.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Randy Cordova
Arizona Republic
August 25, 2011
Perseverance is the theme of "Life, Above All," a drama that is deeply affecting, if also overwhelmingly bleak.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Tom Keogh
Seattle Times
August 19, 2011
There is less in-your-face grit in Cape Town-born director Oliver Schmitz's vision for this film than there is a careful pacing of somber revelations.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 12, 2011
In such a bleak story, the redemptive ending seems rushed and unconvincing, but director Oliver Schmitz has sent us a timely dispatch from a forgotten corner of the world that is honest above all.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
August 5, 2011
This is a heartening story of resilience told without false uplift. It is hopeful without being mawkish, realistic but not oppressive.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
August 5, 2011
"Life, Above All," a deeply moving South African drama about AIDS and ostracism, manages to be, paradoxically, both austere and uplifting.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
August 4, 2011
If [its] allegorical underpinnings blur the film's edges, the performances bring it back into focus.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Sheri Linden
Los Angeles Times
July 22, 2011
Manyaka gives the character a gaze so true it could only open hearts and minds.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Bruce Demara
Toronto Star
July 17, 2011
A wrenching and powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of a remorseless disease and societal prejudice.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
July 17, 2011
Nicely splits the difference between ethnographic realism and melodramatic uplift.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
July 15, 2011
The fluidity of Schmitz's technique reflects a world in which tragedy and uplift are inextricably commingled.
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July 15, 2011
The script groans beneath a mass of symbolic winking and declamatory exposition that has the unfortunate effect of turning the villagers into credulous simpletons, ready to blow with any wind that carries them.
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
July 15, 2011
Newcomer Manyaka, who as Chanda carries the family's burdens on her slender shoulders, is compelling -- she always seems to be leaning forward, ready to walk head first into her next battle.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
July 15, 2011
That tragedy is the real point of "Life, After All." And if the film makes people think about that problem, that's a good thing.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
July 15, 2011
The movie stares clear-eyed at a world where any kind of hope seems like a dream.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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V.A. Musetto
New York Post
July 15, 2011
A downer that too often resorts to melodrama.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
July 14, 2011
This is a modest film, and an affecting one.
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
July 14, 2011
Does something that few painful dramas accomplish: It tells a tale of resilience without platitudes about the triumph of the human spirit or without false promises about an unclouded future.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Mary Corliss
TIME Magazine
July 14, 2011
The director and his splendid cast assure that this tale about a strong little girl fighting to keep her family alive and together has both high art and a big heart, audience appeal and gut impact.
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Alison Willmore
AV Club
July 14, 2011
Life, Above All is something of a blunt instrument, but that doesn't minimize its crushing impact -- this fictional story of the prejudice faced by AIDS-infected people in rural South Africa could wring tears from a stone.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
July 13, 2011
The film is built in such a way that its dynamic cast simply eases us toward the most obvious destination.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Melissa Anderson
Village Voice
July 12, 2011
Life, Above All suggests that ignorance and stigmatization are a problem only in the village, not in the highest office of government.
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Dave Calhoun
Time Out
May 25, 2011
'Life, Above All' is an inside-out portrait of a particular world, whose brutal, dark and unforgiving qualities are reflected in the film's scrubbed-away colours and shadowy interiors.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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James Adams
Globe and Mail
September 14, 2010
Bernhard Jasper's cinematography, under Oliver Schmitz's direction, is at once funky and elegant while the scrip... is inspiring without resorting to any cheap sentimentality.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4