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Death & Life (2017)

The Artist (Michael Ionescu Bailey) is living in The Great City, and life for him is unique. The world around him appears to be crumbling, and the life that he hoped to lead when he moved here is slowly, but surely, slipping through his grasp. As he prepares to die–in multiple ways–he expects the world around him to fall completely. Death & Life is an artistic look at, well, death and life. The Artist is your guide through this dilapidated reality, and the things you will see will both puzzle and intrigue you.

It’s sort of difficult to find a place to start with Death & Life, because it starts somewhere in the middle of the story–but in a place that is somewhat unknown to viewers. It’s not too far reaching to say that Death & Life is sort of a mess–but that’s kind of a good thing. Sometimes the world is a screwed up place [insert random date and time here], and being able to see that depicted on screen in a vibrant and deliberate fashion is interesting.

It’s nice to see a reflection of ourselves in art, and that appears to be a major goal of Writer-Director Eric Norcross throughout the course of Death & Life. Viewers see a number of things throughout the film that feel familiar, even if they don’t necessarily look familiar, and creating this parallel between the real world and the film allows viewers to better understand what Norcross and his cohorts are attempting to accomplish. In the early going The Artist is asked “what” brought him here, and in a very existential way, that’s a question we should be asking ourselves each and everyday. As I sit in front of the computer, both watching Death & Life and putting together this review, I should be asking myself not necessarily “why” I’m doing these things, but what has caused me to get to this point. What things have occurred in my life that have effectively caused me to choose this path instead of another? If I’m not mistaken, this is Norcross’ point. Question anything and everything and life will begin to make more sense.

There are a series of characters that exist in the film and play opposite Bailey, and their purpose is often to force The Artist to dive deeper, more thoroughly evaluate everything around him, and come to terms with the life in which he exists. One of the more interesting characters, one who often appears to viewers as nothing more than a weirdo antagonizing The Artist, is none other than Norcross himself. Eric, I know you’re reading this–and you play one compelling weirdo; kudos.

I don’t want to say that there isn’t a narrative present in Death & Life, but the reality is that the narrative is just a small part of what the film has to offer. Norcross, and Writers Bailey and Jan Major, wants viewers to learn something. They clearly want their viewers to have the wherewithal to evaluate their every move, the scenarios in which they find themselves, and the state of the world in which they live. Don’t settle for things at face value, and don’t simply take others’ word for it–do your own research and find your own answers. Death & Life is incredibly artsy, and its somewhat scattered nature won’t appeal to everyone–but the reality is that it should appeal to everyone. Heed Death & Life’s warning that things aren’t always as they seem, and that you are the key to your own success.

Directed by Eric Norcross.

Written by Michael Ionescu Bailey, Jan Major, & Eric Norcross.

Starring Michael Ionescu Bailey, Jon-Marc MacDonald, Jan Major, & Eric Norcross.


1 comment

1 Comment

Eric Norcross
Eric Norcross
Apr 11, 2022

Thanks, Kyle! It's interesting seeing what you focus on from each project - adds a vital perspective. Truly grateful! -E

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