Given that some of its talking heads are no longer of this world, How to Live Forever quite clearly fails to provide the answer to its titular objective. Worse, however, is that it only dispenses aphorisms that one soon suspects director Mark Wexler—who positions his documentary as a personal inquiry into mortality motivated by his mother’s passing—already knew before he began the project. Investigating humanity’s hunger for everlasting existence, the director bounces between numerous subjects, including the late fitness guru Jack LaLanne, hormone-promoting Suzanne Somers, scientists who predict a forthcoming pharmaceutical- and/or nanobot-aided fountain of youth, a 72-year-old Japanese “elder porn” director/star, and a 101-year-old British marathon runner who habitually drinks and smokes. The sturdiest common thread explored in these vignettes is the distinction between simple longevity and the length of quality health, but the film’s primary message is of a painfully obvious sort: Eating well, exercise, a positive attitude, and good genes all help postpone one’s inevitable date with the Grim Reaper. Eventually, Wexler can’t quell his inner Morgan Spurlock, making himself the center of attention and going so far as to visit a medium in order to converse with his deceased mom. Suffice it to say, life’s too short for such self-indulgent glibness.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 11, 2011