Life Itself (R)
Documentary 120 July 4, 2014
Life Itself is also a portrait of two marriages: Ebert met his wife, Chaz, when he was 50; their union was tested by the most devastating of circumstances, but James captures the casual, bantering devotion between them. Ebert's "other" marriage wasn't so harmonious: Most non-Chicagoans got to know Ebert through the television show he co-hosted with rival Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel. James captures their friction but he also shows how all that mutual abrasion, year after year, made the two men almost closer than family.
Life Itself seems about as comprehensive as it could be, though perhaps it doesn't adequately stress Ebert's generosity toward younger critics. What always struck me -- beyond the self-evident fact that he was such a marvelous, straightforward, open-hearted writer -- was his capacity for delight.