A very weird mixture of documentary and fiction, "The Life" (original title: "Whore") is marketed as a fictional tale of an aspiring actress (Denise Richards) who needs to make ends meet and gets into prostitution due to her neighbor (Darryl Hannah). The film itself, however, spends a whole lot more time interviewing real-life (as it makes sure to point out before the film begins) people involved with prostitution. There is no real structure here: we get interview clip after interview clip, with the participants standing in front of bizarrely artsy backgrounds, many of which were accomplished with CGI. The interviews offer little insight and the backgrounds are often distracting. Furthermore, the look made what the film was going for questionable - why make this subject matter look so slick? There's definitely some sad, tragic stuff in the interviews, so whoseever idea it was to make the film look like a music video certainly took the project in the wrong direction.
The fictional story seems like an afterthought: it's randomly inserted in-between the interviews and occasionally, the film went so long without it that I'd forgotten about it. The performances don't help matters, either: Richards and Hannah are hardly given any time to flesh out the characters or story and both seem disinterested. Overall, I suppose the idea of integrating a fictional tale into a documentary isn't a bad idea, but it's badly done here, and the style of the film totally takes away from anything it's trying to present.
There's both a rated and unrated version offered, but don't look for any nudity from the stars.
VIDEO: "The Life" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen (it seems as if they picked up the film for video release from a company called Screen Media Ventures that did the theatrical release.) The picture quality is fine, but not great. Sharpness and detail are adequate, but a little inconsistent throughout. The picture often appears crisp, but some scenes can look a little softer than the rest.
Some minor pixelation was visible in some scenes, as were a few instances of edge enhancement. The print used looked to be in excellent condition, however, with no specks, marks or other faults. The film's heavily saturated colors also stood up well, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is mostly dialogue-driven, with only minor surround use. Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and no concerns. The audio in the interview segments is often in different languages, with subtitles.
Final Thoughts: "The Life" is a mess - it offers a badly done and thin fictional story poorly inserted into a documentary that, oddly, looks almost like a music video. Universal's DVD edition provides fine audio, okay video and essentially, no supplements. Skip it.