When I heard about this movie almost a year ago I gave myself a mental note to watch it at some point. If you have ever listened to Don’t Read the Latin you certainly know that I have a great love for documentaries, but I have an even softer spot for documentaries about loving film.
Roger Ebert was a complex man. What I really loved about Life Itself is how no holds barred it was. You got to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. But that is part of what made it so truly divine. I lost count of how many times it brought me to tears (in both commiseration with the personal trials that he faced, and honest heartbreak over his up and downs). One of my biggest complaints with discussing historical figures, or even media icons, is that there is a tendency to either villainize the bad or create deities of the good; it removes their humanity and makes everyone believe that we (as mere people) are incapable of tremendous things. With this film, we are allowed to see his flaws, and all it did was give you an even greater appreciation for the things he did, wrote, and said. His passions are laid bare and you feel (as someone who truly loves movies) a kinship with the man he was.
It is heartbreaking that this documentary was skipped over when awards season came and passed. Because it is beautiful and touching. If you grew up like I did, watching Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel trading barbs on Siskel & Ebert, I heartily recommend watching this ode to a man that loved movies, his wife, his family, and life itself.