The life and career of Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago film critic Roger Ebert is explored in this deeply moving portrait. From early beginnings as editor of his college newspaper to the travails of cancer in later life, Ebert emerges as a brilliant but complex individual whose career success and passion for film can’t completely obscure his darker, more vulnerable side. We see a prickly Ebert dueling with film critic Gene Siskel on “At the Movies”, but also witness a warmer, mellower man once he found personal happiness with wife Chaz.
Filmmaker James (whose “Hoop Dreams” Ebert had championed) started this cinematic version of Ebert’s memoir “Life Itself” (2011) just five months before Ebert’s death, not knowing his camera would be eulogizing the prolific film writer and commentator. Difficult hospital scenes are interwoven with archival clips and readings from Ebert’s work (by a sound-alike voice actor). Through it all, Ebert’s buoyant spirit and gallantry in the face of debilitating, disfiguring illness shine through. Fittingly, the man who spent his life in front of a movie screen is immortalized on ours.