Such a Funny Life is an independent film written and directed by Oliver Mann. The film stars Gonzalo Trigueros (David), Gregory McGovern (Benny), Nastasha Strang (Maria), Tom Ashton (Ralph), Caitlyn Stellwagen (Gabriella), and Zeby Khan (Amir). It features well-written dialogue and brilliant performances from its little-known actors.
The film’s main character David Gutierrez is struggling to get out of the slums as he tries to make something of himself. He desires to become a successful stand-up comedian. David must have had some severely bad karmas to deal with because he literally goes through hell in this film. His friends are Benny and Amir. They have known each other since their childhood.
For me the standout performances of this film are Gonzalo Trigueros as David, Gregory McGovern as Benny, and Nastasha Strang as David’s mother Maria. The chemistry of the friendship between David and Benny is undeniably realised onscreen by Gregory and Gonzalo. You entirely buy the illusion that they have been lifelong friends! There are some intensely painful and sadly realistic scenes shared by Gonzalo and Nastasha as well.
David grew up in an abusive household. Ralph, the father figure in this movie, is horrible and treats his family worse than dirt. He swears at them, beats them, and calls them really abusive names. It’s amazing how David and his sister Gabriella were able to cope with and withstand all this negativity. As an indirect result of this abuse, David’s sister passes away at a young age as a result of being hit by a car.
David’s friends are like yin and yang, which in this case represents how light versus darkness. Benny becomes involved with some pretty evil people when he reaches adulthood while Amir maintains a loving and close knit relationship with his family.
David is torn between light and darkness when he makes important decisions that mould his life. He ultimately seems more addicted to elements of darkness than elements of light. This may be because of his negative upbringing.
When Amir invited him into his family’s house to spend some time with them he replied, ‘That’s too much love for me.’ My point is that David could choose to spend time with his more positive friend. He should have chosen love in the end. Instead of doing so, he immerses himself in a cloak of darkness and descends into drug abuse and alcoholism.
David’s one saving grace is the love he has for his mentally ill mother. Mariah Gutierrez is a docile and extremely passive schizophrenic who does not seem capable of making the best decisions for herself and her family. After she hooks up with Ralph, everything starts to descend into madness for David and his family.
About halfway through the movie Ralph finally has Mariah committed to a hospital. He fails to tell David where he sent her. In a desperate attempt to locate his mother, David turns to Benny and thus begins to tread down a dark path. Benny and his cohorts beat the information out of Ralph and what happens to him after that is anyone’s guess.
David doesn’t make the wisest choices and often caves in to peer pressure. Just because someone is raised in an abusive household does not mean that they will eventually become a hardened criminal. They still have potential to become a highly successful and productive member of society. No matter what, David is given choices and does not choose wisely. We all have a choice of who and what we wish to become in life.
His close friend Benny is a rather unsavoury character involved in dealing drugs and various other criminal enterprises. David, seeing no way out, starts working for Benny. He makes good money but starts to question his own moral fibre. Is this what he wants out of life? What about his dream of becoming a successful stand-up comedian?
Such a Funny Life leaves you with an unpleasant lingering aftertaste. The characters are so addicted to negativity that they ooze it though their pores. It is darker than the darkest Ingmar Bergman film. In other words it is unrelentingly dark.
Oliver Mann’s story left me feeling bitter and hating the world.This film makes movies like Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer feel like a theme park ride. One’s decision to watch this film is purely a subjective choice.
Some viewers may think me heartless for criticising a film like Such a Funny Life; however, nothing could be farther from the truth. I cared for these characters as I would for my own friends and family. I wanted to see David and his friends turn their lives around and rise above the murky waters they were drowning themselves in.
Instead the ending first broke my heart and then ripped it to shreds. The title of this film is unapologetically ironic. Every character in this film, except for Amir, drags themselves down and wants to take everyone else with them. That is exactly what this film does to the viewer.
Written by Carl William Zeigler