The thing to remember when watching A Life Less Ordinary, is that the movie is supposed to be surreal–it’s kind of like a dream. The violence, if taken seriously, ruins the whole piece. But when that violence, along with just about everything else about the movie, is viewed as something outside of reality, everything comes together to form some real entertainment.
Nothing that happens in this movie could really happen the way it does; and that’s the point. I’m convinced that the reason most of the critics trashed this movie is they didn’t quite get the surrealism involved here. Notice that even the setting of the movie is removed from anything overly familiar.
The action doesn’t start in New York City and move to upstate New York. It all takes place in Utah. The audience is not bombarded with familiar products. I have no idea what kind of gas the characters put in their car–we are not shown a looming sign at the gas station with a big name gas company emblazoned on it. When Robert (Ewan McGregor) unpacks groceries there are no soda cans or potato chip bags positioned just right so that the audience can read them. Even when we are given a specifics about place, they are generic. “Al’s Bar,” for example. All of these things help create this surreal, dream-like feel to the movie.
Don’t listen to the critics. In fact, never listen to the critics. Make up your own mind. In my opinion, this is a great movie. But don’t listen to me either. Just see it.