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LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT, Destiny Is What You Make Of It

What is important in life? Can you change your destiny by changing your values? In “Life or Something Like It,” ambitious television personality Lanie Kerrigan (Angelina Jolie) confronts these questions like she’s never confronted anything before.

She has a week to save her life — or something like it. Can she do this without ruining her career? Or is career so important? Can Lanie postpone her final destiny — her death — by changing the direction of her life?

Destiny takes on a big role in director Stephen Herek’s Life or Something Like It. For a light romantic comedy, the movie ponders some relatively deep questions. Similarly, Angelina Jolie’s performance gives depth to a rather shallow character.

The most lasting impression in the movie is that of Angelina Jolie sporting bleach blonde Marilyn Monroe style hair. Here’s this actress who has played tough women with much more on their mind than their image. And in this movie she says, “My hair is my trademark.”

It looks strange, and maybe that is what draws us to remember it. The bleach blonde hair is just wrong for Angelina Jolie. In the same way, maybe the life and the destiny Lanie Kerrigan has built are wrong for her.

Are entertainers selfless or self-centered?

As a girl, Lanie Kerrigan was not especially noticeable. She took it upon herself to become noticed, as Marylin Monroe had done. When young Lanie would sing or dance or entertain, it was to gain admiration and be the center of attention.

So Lanie was able to make her dying mother smile. That was good. It was a selfless act. But Lanie’s real reason for entertaining was not so selfless. Everything she ever did was to call more and more attention to herself.

Your image — is it really so important?
Is it really you?

As a television news reporter, Lanie’s whole life revolves around what people think of her. She bases her life and career on her own notions of popularity. It is more important for people to notice her than the news she reports.

Lanie always looks perfect when on camera. She always knows where to stand and what to say and how to dress to be singled out in any scene. As for her personal life, the public knows that she is engaged to marry a popular baseball player.

LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT, Destiny Is What You Make Of It

 

So for Lanie, life is perfect. She has a perfect hair-do, perfect clothes, a perfect fiance, a perfect career, all the things that she thinks life is all about. Her image is her destiny, and she has made it a perfect one ………. UNTIL

Image and reality clash — a struggle for destiny.

A homeless prophet (Tony Shalhoub) tells Lanie she is going to die next week.

It’s up to Lanie how she will treat this news. As much as she wants to shrug it off, it wakes her up, like a sudden blow to the head. She has one week to come to terms with who she is and what is truly important to her.

A cameraman (Edward Burns) becomes her guide to the real world and to her real self. While Lanie has lived behind an image that she has created for the public, the cameraman has tried to capture pictures of reality to expose to the world. Often those pictures held Lanie’s image in the foreground.

With possible death fast approaching, with her life meeting its final destiny, Lanie embarks on an oddysey of sorts. She gradually strips off her image.

She digs into the true nature of her relationship with her fiance, but doesn’t have to dig too deep. Her engagement ends.

She lets her hair down, and doesn’t even take a shower. She gets drunk (Alcohol is sometimes called a truth serum.) and shows up at a demonstration in grungy clothes. She turns her news report into a rally of support for the demonstrators. Everyone has a good time, and Lanie has the time of her life — her real life, not just something like it.

Just when she thinks her career is over, surprise of all surprises. She’s going up — national — to be seen by millions and millions. And she gets to start by interviewing her long-time role model, Deborah Conners (Stockard Channing). A dream come true. But is it her true destiny?

The interview with a celebrity that she has long admired brings Lanie to realize many things about herself. The person behind the celebrity is something different than the image she has portrayed. And Lanie has to ask herself if this is what she wants — if the career and the image are worth it.

And then, just as the homeless prophet predicted, she dies. However, it’s not a bullet that brings about her final destiny. The bullet only announces it — or pronounces it.

Lanie’s true destiny shifted when she shifted her values — when she embarked on a parallel path to the one her career and image had brought her to. It was when she decided that truth and love and real relationships are more important than career, popularity and image. When she began to make her destiny different, that was the end of Lanie Kerrigan’s life, or something like it…….