Real Life (1979)

Dir. Albert Brooks

I can’t really recommend this 1001 pick, although watching the way Brooks deals with the premise is interesting. Like other films by Brooks there are one or two pretty entertaining moments as well.

Brooks plays a Hollywood filmmaker who is inspired to make a film about a real family. The idea is now passe, but in 1979 it was ahead of its time. The film starts with the way the family is chosen–putting families through a series of psychological tests. After the family is chosen, Brooks lives next door to the family and has cameras strategically placed to film them. Definitely a precursor to reality TV.

The problem is that the film didn’t offer any interesting insights. As a director, Brooks has an interesting ideas for films (looking at America through a couple’s road trip; envisioning the afterlife), but I just find the insights mild and not very interesting. Having said that, his films almost always have two or three really hilarious moments. In this film, I loved the scene where Brooks’ character meets the wife/mother of the family. I loved it when she cries and hugs him and Brooks doesn’t want to touch her, but his hand moves in a comforting gesture.
Brooks is aware though that there is no such thing as a “reality” TV–that the act of filming makes true reality all but impossible.

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