The Enormity of Life stays moody enough to keep viewers soaked in its spin on mental health. Director Eric Swindlerman doesn’t exactly bring game-changing ideas across a 90-minute indie film. A number of thoughtful messages about life are there for viewers who might not know if they need it. But particular fans of star Breckin Meyer (Robot Chicken, Garfield, Unpregnant) will inevitably commit thanks to his earnest take on depression. The Enormity of Life constantly switches between a black comedy and melodrama, and while the film does bring in a few laughs, it hardly keeps up with other moving genre parts.
A death sets The Enormity of Life in motion. Sort of. Middle-aged everyman Casey (Meyer) is just about finished with all that exists. He quietly takes matters into his own hands until that noose stops working. It’s a grim way to kick off an indie film in full detail, but The Enormity of Life effectively uses the cold floor as a launching point for Casey. Meyer doesn’t take any signs from the universe. In fact, he pretty much just goes on about his day. The film cleverly takes viewers back into Casey’s turbulent life.
Viewers will be washed over with The Enormity of Life’s indie vibes. It doesn’t pack CGI, supernatural elements or any kind of mystery (at first). Those looking for a good-old-fashioned human narrative will more than get it here. The Enormity of Life still stands out by connecting all its moments back to a failed suicide attempt. Director and writer Swindlerman plays out every missed opportunity if Casey dies at the start. It’s a clever theme which doesn’t rely on any what-ifs. Rather, viewers watch Casey face his own music and get a new perspective in the process.
The Enormity of Life consistently stays true to a journey of redemption, even if the signs don’t translate for an emotionally despondent Casey. The Enormity of Life’s most redeeming value comes from making viewers chuckle without toilet humour or cheap visual gags. Just a few well-placed jabs at unhappiness and Casey’s reactions to weird responses.
“Viewers with 90 minutes to spare could find an enjoyable payoff from The Enormity of Life.“
Meyer does deliver plenty of feel-good moments along the way. After all, Casey has nothing to lose. This gives him moments of standing up to people. Including satisfying banter which brings out the worst in Casey’s problematic circle. The Enormity of Life juggles a relatively small cast as an indie movie, but it’s just enough to let co-star Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead, Arrow, Messiah) shine as Jess. Unapologetically happy and hardworking, Jess is a single mother who just so happens to live in Casey’s building. Both share just enough development for viewers to ship them, while Kinney’s unwavering demeanour challenges Meyer with some decent messages about suicide and trying again. The Enormity of Life follows Casey’s journey as he starts opening up about depression to Jess. This adds some surprisingly heartfelt moments near the supposed “climax” over a regular conversation.
The film doesn’t quite find any balance from dark humour. Viewers might have a hard time telling apart laughable moments with subject matter. This inconsistently muddles the plot when Casey tells Jess more about his previous life (before the noose). Exposition comes in less remarkable ways as The Enormity of Life tries to stay indie. In fact, its opening scene teases a mystery that doesn’t very much pay off by the end. Rather, plenty of potential story beats in The Enormity of Life go flat as Swinderman pushes things along, but I still had fun seeing Casey’s own takes on life. More importantly, his satisfying bouts of vindication against things which led him to suicide. This includes dealing with sister Missy (Debra Herzog), who snaps at just about anything that talks. While The Enormity of Life does find a way for Casey to free himself from her irresponsibility.
The Enormity of Life is partly carried by Jules (Giselle Eisenberg), Jess’ daughter who is emotionally affected by stories of school shootings. It’s an indirect way for director Swindlerman to acknowledge gun violence in the U.S. The Enormity of Life grapples with messages and nightmare scenarios of school shootings. But the film doesn’t go all-in as it attempts to keep every gear moving. Instead, Casey finds some pretty hilarious moments with Jules as they start bonding. This chemistry bleeds over The Enormity of Life’s three stars throughout. It’s great to see Jules find some kind of a story arc by confronting her fears of a school shooting, but this is hardly a driving point as Casey finds new perspectives across his journey. Her direct form of curiosity and encyclopedic knowledge of school shootings might be off-putting at first, but Eisenberg’s stellar performance kept me from tuning out.
Viewers with 90 minutes to spare could find an enjoyable payoff from The Enormity of Life. Whether it comes from some scripted messages about compassion in a world short of it. Or outright see a person inadvertently gain new meaning after supposedly dying. The Enormity of Life is far from perfect, from its strange pacing and coming-of-age tropes. It stays entirely grounded as an indie film. It doesn’t take anything out of context to depict real-time suffering. Jaded and barely cheery, funnyman Meyer cracks enough witty banter to warrant a few laughs, while Casey’s own transformation unfolds with an enjoyable curiosity behind his depression.
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