It’s Not Yet Dark tells the story of Simon Fitzmaurice, the Irish film director who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (ALS) at the age of 34. Simon loved his life so much that he kept on working and directed his first feature film, My Name Is Emily, with eye-gaze technology.
Simon’s career in the film industry was about to blossom when his diagnosis was made. He was a father and a husband in a loving family. As his condition quickly declines throughout the documentary, he fights harder and harder to reach his goal: to direct his feature film.
The film is director Frankie Fenton’s feature debut andis adapted from Simon Fitzmaurice’s own memoir of the same title. Alongside the documentary storytelling conventions – interviews with family and friends, archives, personal photos and videos – the film was given a unique and absolutely moving element which is the narration of Simon’s book by Colin Farrell. The first-person point of view creates a special, intimate relationship between the viewers and the protagonist. The literary aspect of the film is felt, yet overall it is effectively balanced with the documentary aspects.
The cinematography and visuals of It’s Not Yet Dark are expressive within the confines of the documentary style. The soundtrack effectively works to emphasise the audience’s emotional journey with the main characters.
While the viewer mostly perceives this journey from Simon’s point of view due to the narration, it often delves into his loved ones’ perspectives. Putting the viewer into several characters’ shoes, who are all involved in the same issue, deepens the audience’s immersion.
This way, the director has created an unmissable viewer experience which breaks your heart even on the first viewing. Simon’s incredible strength and love – for his life, for his family and friends and for his work – provides plenty of motivation. We see him fighting even when he loses everything except his extraordinary determination and positivity. He not only triumphs over MND by directing his feature film, but he remains the husband and the father he had been before MND. The film shows an extremely strong family where the members instinctively support each other so that they learn to live a complete life together, even when Simon is physically incapacitated.
All in all, It’s Not Yet Dark is a brilliant, moving documentary which is truly uplifting. The film has a powerful message about triumph over adversity and deserves to be watched.
It’s Not Yet Dark is screening as part of LIFF 31. Visit their website- LeedsFilmCity.com.