Thursday, June 30, 2016

Life Itself (2014)

If you know me at all you know that I'm extremely hard on documentaries. Paint by numbers does not work for me. Bio docs are often the worst offenders. If I wanted a list of incidents I would just read the person's Wikipedia page. While Life Itself certainly does make a point of checking off all the key moments in Roger Ebert's life, it stands out by choosing to mirror the structure of the biography on which it was based.

Rather than telling a strict chronological narrative, Ebert's book is structured much more like a series of essays where each covers a different aspect of his life. There's the one about journalism, the one about alcoholism, the one about Scorsese, the one about Chaz, etc. Instead of a simple list of accomplishments, you get to take in all the numerous and diverse aspects of Roger's life. He wasn't just a film critic. He wasn't just a recovering alcoholic. He wasn't just a TV personality. He was all those things and many more. This is a film about all the different elements that make up a person. This is a film about Life Itself.

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