Pow­er­ful view of bat­tle with ALS

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - — Gary Goldstein

“It’s Not Yet Dark” is a lovely and poignant doc­u­men­tary trac­ing the life of award-win­ning Ir­ish film­maker Si­mon Fitz­mau­rice and the pro­foundly chal­leng­ing turn it took in 2008 when, at age 34, he was di­ag­nosed with Mo­tor Neu­ron Dis­ease, the neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­or­der more com­monly known state­side as ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease).

Us­ing a wealth of home videos, interviews with Fitz­mau­rice’s wife, Ruth, and fam­ily, and nar­ra­tion by Colin Far­rell largely culled from Fitz­mau­rice’s 2014 mem­oir, di­rec­tor Frankie Fen­ton paints a pow­er­ful, in­spir­ing portrait of one man’s emo­tional and cre­ative for­ti­tude against the dev­as­tat­ing dis­ease (which just re­cently claimed the life of Sam Shep­ard).

The film cov­ers Fitz­mau­rice’s buoy­ant youth, his courtship of and mar­riage to Ruth, with whom he has five chil­dren, and his work as writer-di­rec­tor of such short films as 2003’s “Full Cir­cle” and the 2008 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val en­try “The Sound of Peo­ple” as well as the 2015 crowd­funded fea­ture “My Name Is Emily.”

How Fitz­mau­rice, by then com­pletely par­a­lyzed, man­aged the gar­gan­tuan task of script­ing and helm­ing “Emily” us­ing only eye move­ment and iris recog­ni­tion soft­ware is stun­ning to be­hold.

Al­though “Dark” es­chews overly graphic de­pic­tion of the more hor­rific phys­i­o­log­i­cal as­pects of MND and barely touches upon the fi­nan­cial toll the ill­ness clearly takes, this is as real a hu­man story as it gets. “It’s Not Yet Dark.” Rat­ing: Not rated. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 20 min­utes. Play­ing: Laemmle Mon­ica Film Center, Santa Mon­ica. Also on VOD.


FILM­MAKER Si­mon Fitz­mau­rice and wife Ruth Fitz­mau­rice in the doc­u­men­tary “It’s Not Yet Dark” about his bat­tle with MND.

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