clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Life Itself

A Roger Ebert biopic that doubles as a treatise on art and its critics (Netflix)

Life Itself
Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Life Itself is Steve James’s 2014 warts-and-all documentary about legendary film critic Roger Ebert. James began the doc before Ebert passed away in 2013 and finished it after his subject’s death. It’s a biography, and contains narration from Ebert’s memoir of the same name, as well as interviews with the critic’s friends (and frenemies) and footage from his life. But the film is much more than an honest take on the life of an important writer: It’s a defense of art and criticism, and the ways they generate empathy and awe.

”Death is a part of life — one that informs everything we do, on some level or another — and watching Ebert characterize whatever time he has left as ‘money in the bank,’ from what viewers know is his deathbed, is life-affirming and heartbreaking in equal measure.” Genevieve Koski, the Dissolve

Release date: July 4, 2014

Streaming on: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play

Metacritic score: 87 out of 100

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.