Defending Your Life is a film released in 1991, starring Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep. Brooks also wrote and directed the film. The story is fairly intriguing.
Brooks' character, Daniel Miller, a typical Los Angeles businessman, is killed when he runs into a bus in his brand new BMW on his birthday. After his death, he finds that he is in a strange world. He is wearing a garment much like a medical patient. He is in a wheelchair, and being pushed towards an unseen destination. He can't really move, and has to be helped onto the tram that he eventually comes to. This takes him to a hotel, where he is told that everything will be explained in the morning. He is taken to a room, given a fashionable, one-size-fits-all, unisex tunic, and then he collapses.
In the morning, he is awakened by his defender, Bob Diamond (played by Rip Torn) who calls him and tells him that they have an 11:00 appointment. He learns that he is in Judgement City, a place which serves "the dead of the entire western United States." The weather is always 74 degrees, all the food is exquisite, and no one gains weight. He learns that the universe works with a variety of different "levels." You only move onto the next one after you have "passed" various levels. Upon moving through the levels, you begin to gain intelligence, and understanding about the workings of the universe. Bob Diamond, for example, uses 48% of his brain, compared to Daniel's meager 3%.
He learns that he will be going to a trial, except that "you shouldn't call it a trial." He will be shown scenes from his life, and he will defend them before two judges. There will also be a prosecutor, trying to convince them that he shouldn't be allowed to "move on." She contends that he has too much fear, and has shown it in everything. He goes to trial each day, and feels worse and worse when confronted with his life.
Each day after the trial, he visits the many attractions around the city, including the Past Lives Pavillion. He also meets a beautiful woman named Julia (played by Meryl Streep) and quickly (the trials last about four to five days before you leave for your next judgement) falls in love. The movie revolves around the love that develops between these two.
I watched this movie in religion class, and I have to say that I really liked it. I don't think that I could possibly explain all the nuances of the movie's presentation of the universe. It is very interesting, and provides one of the most interesting takes on the afterlife that I have seen. The romance, though somewhat trite, remains somewhat interesting because both characters are dead. And, the ending is fairly surprising and quite good. I really reccommend this movie.
The movie's total US gross was $16.217 million.