Defending Your Life 04/20/21
Albert Brooks’ most entertaining picture is still about modern anxieties, but this time seen through a satirical ‘film blanc’ filter. Neurotic ad man Daniel has a bad encounter with a bus and finds himself in a bizarre Heavenly Waiting Room for the Afterlife … except that it’s an entirely different system than that of St. Peter — he’s judged not for his sins or lack of faith, but his character and courage. This stopping-off point to a new life is plenty disconcerting for Daniel, especially when he meets the woman of his dreams (Meryl Streep). The judges practically applaud her exemplary, near-perfect life. How can Daniel ever compete? Criterion’s extras give us a genuine theologian’s analysis of Brooks’ astute afterlife comedy. Co-starring Rip Torn, Lee Grant and Shirley MacLaine. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.