Published Dec 08, 2020The budding "cancer-romance" subgenre is one you can almost always rely on for a good ugly cry session. The narrative remains pretty consistent throughout these types of films — a young couple find their way to one another and share a deep, passionate love, where they each learn more about themselves than ever before. Then, of course, one of them dies from cancer. Marc Meyers' All My Life follows the same narrative, without providing the tears… or really providing viewers with any emotional response at all.
All My Life is based on the true love story of Jennifer Carter and Solomon Chau. The duo became known nation-wide after their friends launched a GoFundMe page for their wedding after Solomon's cancer diagnosis threatened to put things on hold.
Harry Shum Jr. plays Sol and Jessica Rothe plays Jennifer. Within the first half-hour, the couple have met one another, moved in, celebrated Thanksgiving and gotten engaged. On top of that, we're given this random side plot of how Sol is an amazing chef and his job as a digital marketer is taking that away from him. The only background we get of Sol's cooking passion is that he worked in a food truck at some point. How does Sol get into cooking? Did he do it with his family growing up? Why didn't he pursue a career in it? Did he pursue a career in it and failed? Or is he just a guy who enjoys cooking and can't cook as often because he's busy with his shitty job? It's hard to connect emotionally with Sol since we're lacking so much backstory.
Sol's friend, Kyle, ghosts him because we find out Kyle's dad died from cancer and so seeing his friend go through it is too hard. This totally makes sense; however, we do not delve into that plot whatsoever, nor does the vacancy of Kyle seem to affect Sol at all. Kyle shows up to Sol's wedding, they knock elbows in good, friendly fun and go their separate ways. There's no deep talks or emotive conversation discussing his disappearance or the inevitable death of his friend. You know, something that could make the viewer feel something.
The story line of the GoFundMe page seems, yet again, like another random side plot that doesn't get enough attention to actually be considered the main story. One moment, their friends are discussing this idea and the next it is in full swing, and then right after that, Jennifer and Sol are getting married.
The only tension you really get in this film is right before the wedding when Sol suggests they don't get married because he doesn't want Jennifer to watch him die. That said, this "conflict" lasts all of a couple minutes and then they're being wed in the next scene. Following that, when Sol gets his results back stating that the cancer has spread and it's only a matter of time before he dies, Jennifer has a breakdown alone in her car. This scene was about the only thing that felt real – the pain of a young woman whose lover is inevitably going to die was depicted wonderfully by Jessica Rothe. Much like the rest of the film, it would have been better if it wasn't so rushed.
The film is depicted as a drama, but there was nothing dramatic about it. Of course, a young man dying from cancer is heartbreaking and having his friends launch a GoFundMe page is wholesome. But the film is just an array of unfinished story lines and an awkward amount of positivity with no real depth to any relationship being shown. It is a heartwarming real-life story, but one that doesn't harness enough material to warrant an entire film.