The 2016 Edinburgh International Film Festival featured a film called My Name is Emily, by Simon Fitzmaurice. This year, It’s Not Yet Dark is billed as the story behind Fitzmaurice’s film. It both is and isn’t. Frankie Fenton’s documentary is so much more than its synopsis. Though made up of classic tried-and-tested documentary ingredients, it is somehow transcendent.
Colin Farrell gives soulful narration that’s as good as any of his physical appearances. The narration, wisely taken from Fitzmaurice’s memoir (also called It’s Not Yet Dark) displays his enviable skill as a writer while ensuring that he is as much a voice of the film as its subject. It’s Not Yet Dark is tear-provoking throughout; not because it’s sad, although at times it is, but because of its staggeringly insightful reflections on life and love. The mutual respect between Fitzmaurice, his wife, family and the filmmakers, many of whom also worked on My Name is Emily, is beautiful to behold.
Aesthetically, the film benefits from the fact that somebody close to the Fitzmaurice family clearly has a photographer’s eye, but Fenton needs no such crutch. He opens with empty foggy Irish landscapes set to a mournful score, which, though gorgeous, threaten a tone of eviscerating tragedy which thankfully isn’t fulfilled. Instead It’s Not Yet Dark is exhilarating and admirably optimistic, like Fitzmaurice himself.
In a speech given at the Galway Film Fleadh, Fitzmaurice describes his desire to make love stories without sentimentality. Fenton has achieved the same.
It’s Not Yet Dark is wide-ranging, presenting Fitzmaurice’s family life as compellingly as his professional. Fenton skimps a bit when it comes to conveying timeline, yet the emotional arc is so investing that this is likely to escape notice. It’s an honour to share in and experience this generous, inspiring and genuinely romantic story.
DIRECTOR: Frankie Fenton
SYNOPSIS: The story of Simon Fitzmaurice, a talented young Irish filmmaker with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), as he embarks on directing his first feature film through the use of his eyes and eye gaze technology.