Once in the Life
Once in the Life (2001)

Actor Laurence Fishburne makes his debut as a director in this urban drama adapted from his one-act stage play +Riff Raff. 20/20 Mike (Fishburne) and his half-brother Torch (Titus Welliver) bump into each other under less than ideal… More

Rated: R
Running Time:
Release Date: February 1, 2001
DVD Release Date: November 6, 2001
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Critic Score: 28% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Once in a Life is a promising directorial effort by Laurence Fishburne. But the story is too conventional and similar to the many ghetto action/dramas that come before it.

Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

Billy's meltdown provides a real-time reality check, but for most of the time we're waiting for the payoff, and when it comes, I'm afraid, it's not very satisfying.

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Kevin Maynard
Mr. Showbiz

While this cautionary tale of brotherhood gone wrong doesn't exactly break new ground, it certainly shows off its writer-director-star's triple-threat filmmaking potency.

Jeffrey Westhoff
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

It reeks of staged theater: three men in one room talking endlessly.

Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune

Fishburne is able to create such an effective balance between humor and anxiety that the movie survives its familiarities of character and language.

Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly

Talky in the best sense.

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E! Online

Despite some pacing missteps, this well-acted and colorfully photographed film is a gripping, gritty look at a hard-knock Life.

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A.O. Scott
New York Times

Without a coherent story to hold our attention, the mood of somber, lower-depths desperation soon becomes monotonous.

Lou Lumenick
New York Post

Would easily qualify for an Oscar nomination if it were in a movie that was a bit less like canned theater and more cinematic.

Harvey S. Karten

Never loses its identity as a work meant strictly for the stage.

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