The Nature of Death: Our Review of ‘Obit’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 31, 2017
The Nature of Death: Our Review of ‘Obit’

Seeing a life summed up in such a neat and tidy form actually gives perspective on how we really should be living it.

While at first glance, Obit might feel a little morbid or depressing it actually ends up as a rather fascinating look at the front line of history and how we get placed in it by the obit writers at a major metropolitan newspaper and it very much plays as a celebration to life rather than a morbid reminder of our mortality.

It is literally a dying art. In-depth obituaries require investigation, sensitive interviewing and deft writing. They are a connection to history that defies the digital world and no collection of “deskers” does past lives better than the New York Times obituary team. Obit introduces viewers to veteran journalists whose daily job is to absorb the lives of people who died, make an editorial case for their impact and newsworthiness, and do them justice in print; all in the seven hours before deadline.

From director Vanessa Gould, Obit is an unprecedented look at what is sadly becoming a forgotten craft…writing and it makes for a beautiful thing as we see these people on the obit desk who are passionately fighting to tell these stories of lives lived as best they can. 

Smartly, Gould lets the subjects of her film become the stars of the film.  While we do get the in’s and out’s of what the job requires as she focuses on the likes of Bruce Weber, Margalit Fox and William Grimes and we get to see the breadth of journalistic knowledge and know how that brought these people to the desk.  It’s not an assignment or a punishment but these writers seem to want to be there and take this craft very seriously as they fight for 500, 800 or 1200 words to sum up the life of someone of any kind of note.  She lets us as audience members track the evolution of the job and the motivations of those at those desks at the New York Times each and every day.

This film really is a love letter to the written word and in Obit as we see people hard at work trying to sum up the lives of any given individual in a time frame that can range from hours to even minutes, it actually makes us as audience engage with the people tasked to sum up the lives of others in merely a few hundred words, and it even makes us wonder how the Obits for those writing on the Obit desk may go like.

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.