Starring: Oscar Martínez, Inma Cuesta, Mafalda Carbonell
Director: Maria Ripoll
Running Time: 101 mins
Live Twice, Love Once (Vivir dos veces) is a Spanish film about an ageing professor who, despite struggling with onset Alzheimer’s, becomes determined to seek out the love of his life, decades after last parting with her.
Although not quite the powerfully moving ode to life and love that it wants to be, there’s something strikingly heartfelt about Live Twice, Love Once throughout. With an excellent lead turn from Oscar Martínez, and passionate directing from beginning to end, it’s a captivating watch that raises riveting points about dementia, old age and family.
The story largely revolves around Oscar Martínez, who plays an ageing professor that sets out to find the girl he fell in love with as a young boy, decades after he last saw her. It’s a pleasant and heartwarming tale of pure love, and provides a frank look at the often difficult realities of lifelong romance.
At the same time, the film shows Martínez’s character begin to fall into an increasingly degenerative state of Alzheimer’s, with his growing lack of awareness of the world around him putting him in even greater danger as he sets out on a journey across the country.
Together, both of those stories are excellent, and are individually fascinating in their own right from start to finish. From the heartfelt assessment of love to a strikingly frank look at the realities of struggling with Alzheimer’s, Live Twice, Love Once is an undeniably captivating watch throughout.
It certainly doesn’t hold back when showing the emotional toll of a degenerative disease, both on the person suffering from it, as well as those around them – particularly the family trying to look after them.
From the devastating inability to connect with a person to the struggle of never knowing their real state of mind, it’s a captivating and powerfully intimate portrait of living with the disease, and provides genuinely affecting drama in that regard throughout.
However, as powerful and intimate as the film’s portrayal of the disease is, it doesn’t integrate those themes into the narrative quite as effectively.
Alongside the romantic tale, the movie is almost haphazard in its assessment of Alzheimer’s disease, often rushing or unnecessarily dragging out key moments that focus on the development of the disease.
Its inconsistent time jumps make the speed of our main character’s worsening condition difficult to follow, while its heavy romantic focus leaves those themes a little by the wayside at times, making Live Twice, Love Once feel far more like a romantic movie than a film about Alzheimer’s.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, and the film does provide captivating drama on both accounts, but it doesn’t bring all those elements together under one roof in a particularly effective way. And as a result, the film does lose quite a bit of its dramatic impact throughout.
Overall, I must say that I liked Live Twice, Love Once. Its heartfelt romantic drama and riveting, frank assessment of living wiht Alzheimer’s are captivating throughout, even if the story doesn’t bring those two themes together in such impressive fashion.
It’s an interesting albeit inconsistent watch, but with strong thematic depth throughout that makes it absolutely worth your time. So, that’s why I’m giving Live Twice, Love Once a 7.1 overall.