“Life Itself” Review By Tarek Fayoumi


“Life Itself” is about a film critic that put so much effort into his film criticism to help people appreciate film as an art form. That man is Roger Ebert, he was a journalist since the age of fifteen, he got a job as a film critic, and became the biggest names of film critics in history. His criticism may have been outspoken often: since he was an only child, he was use to getting his way.

When Gene Siskel teamed up with Ebert for reviewing films, we see how both guys were different with film criticism. Ebert was all about the actual experience of the movie. I remember one time they were doing a segment on how to review films. He stated that if you give a movie a bad review, you need to know that your reader is going to read your review and know that they would like to see that movie. From this, Ebert taught many of us that there is no point in being extremely negative about a film to leave people feeling there is no reason they would want to see a certain film whatsoever. With Siskel, he liked to basically do his reviews moderate style and do it as if it was a current event to grab his readers attention. From this, I realized that Siskel was a bit more laid back than Roger, but that Roger may have been opinionated but his words made sense, just in a more negative tone at times.

James is able to keep his attention of important aspects of both critics to help viewers understand what they captivated Siskel and Ebert. I never knew that Ebert was not a TV person in the beginning compared to Siskel. Also I did not know that Ebert had to learn writing for TV before doing the show. No wonder why earlier on his TV segments, his talking seemed off, shy, or rushed.

Steve James’ film has the mellow-tone quality of how Ebert’s life was once he found out he had thyroid cancer. That is something he de does well with. We see Ebert’s motivation, his love of his life Chaz Ebert, and above all…how he wanted his voice to be heard when it came to the subject of movies.

The film sprints through two hours of mesmerizing interviews with friends, family, and celebrities. It makes a story that is not thorough to be a masterpiece. As Ebert once said, “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” The length of the film is just right. The reason for the two hours of the film is because of how viewers have the opportunity to experience the life he lived. James made what he makes best was to prove that Life was, “The only thing that Roger loved more than movies.”

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