- 1 hr 48 min
Life is a 1999 American buddy comedy-drama film directed by Ted Demme. It stars Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence as two small time criminals named Claude Banks and Ray Gibson who are wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in Mississippi in the 1930s. The film follows their experiences and friendship as they spend decades in prison together.
When Claude and Ray first arrive at the state penitentiary, they have trouble adjusting to the harsh conditions and cruelty of some of the guards. Claude in particular struggles with the bleakness of knowing he'll be locked up for the rest of his life. However, the two men bond over their mutual outrage regarding their false imprisonment. They resolve to look out for each other behind bars. The years start to go by in montages as Claude and Ray grow older in their confinement.
To cope and pass the time, Claude and Ray make bootleg liquor to sell to their fellow prisoners. They also provide protection to some inmates in exchange for goods and services. Over the decades they develop a friendship and loyalty towards each other, despite their contrasting personalities - Claude is more cynical and bitter while Ray retains hope they'll one day see freedom again. Their bootlegging operation continues to thrive and they bribe guards to get small luxuries like a record player in their cell.
In their later years, Claude starts to question the value of their small successes in prison and contemplates if he's wasted his life maintaining a facade of freedom when true freedom has been denied to him. Ray tries to get Claude out of his deepening depression and funk. Claude nearly commits suicide at one point but ultimately decides he doesn't want to leave Ray alone. As elderly men, Claude and Ray reflect on their resilience and will to survive both despite and because of the friendship they've built over so many hard years locked away together.
Life is an examination of loyalty, despair and perseverance in the face of a cynical system of incarceration and injustice. Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence demonstrate excellent chemistry and camaraderie as the two leads who endure losing so much life and liberty due to mistakes in their youth. Their presence provides both comedic moments as well as impactful drama while conveying the highs and lows of Claude and Ray's confinement over several decades.
Life is a 1999 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 48 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8 and a MetaScore of 63.