Sunday, 7 December 2014

Life Itself - review

Life Itself, the documentary of the life of Roger Ebert, does everything that a good movie should. It makes you laugh, cry, feel, emote and build a greater appreciation for cinema as a whole.

Steve James's powerful and moving doc involves interviews with Ebert in his final months as he is in and out of hospital relating to his cancer treatment. Seeing Ebert communicating through a computer after the cancer had taken his lower jaw and voice is upsetting to see and difficult to watch but what amazes is the high spirits that Roger seemed to be able to keep up.

Alongside the interviews, the film uses his memoir as the starting point for a look through the life of one of the world's all-time greatest film critics. It doesn't shy away from the darker side of history with Ebert's alcoholism, a frank look at his illness and his longtime friendship/rivalry with fellow Chicago critic Gene Siskel.

If there was one minor complaint, it would be that it didn't feature enough of his work and reviews (they did win him a Pulitzer Prize after all) but thankfully this can all be read and enjoyed on his website which catalogued his entire life's work because he was adamant that even though cancer had taken his vocal chords it wouldn't take his voice.

Just hearing a few excerpts from his reviews during the film makes you feel bad that you might never write anything as good but just the simple act of writing about film would put a smile on his face and I think Roger himself would have also given the film two thumbs up.

4 stars

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