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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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter

Serves only to demonstrate that Fishburne, a talented, inventive actor, is, unfortunately, not ready to write and direct motion pictures.

Jeffrey Westhoff
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

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

A.O. Scott
New York Times

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

Gary Dowell
Dallas Morning News

A hit-and-miss effort.

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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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly

Talky in the best sense.

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Michael Atkinson
Village Voice

While the line-readings are often dead-on, Fishburne's movie suffers from the usual one-room claustrophobia and Mametian repetitions.

Harvey S. Karten

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

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