Colored Ribbons and Viral Videos are fine, but this is how you truly bring awareness about a disease.
“Glen Campbell: I’ll be Me” is a musical documentary of country legend Glen Campbell’s final tour even after the disease of Alzheimer’s had started to take it’s toll on his mind and his memories. It’s an in depth look into both the man and the disease that is currently affecting over 5 million American’s living today. To try to accomplish both tasks in less than 2 hours would seem to be quite the challenge, but this movie manages to find that balance well enough and educate us through the story of this incredible musician and singer.
Make no mistake this movie is incredibly powerful. Much of this has to do with the simple courage of this family to really put on display the impact and affect of what Alzheimers does. In choosing to do a final tour even after Campbell’s mind started to go, they were brave enough to shine a light on how difficult it can be. And seeing this family deal with it behind the scenes gave me a clearer picture than ever about how difficult that journey can be. It’s breathtaking. But even as I was learning about alzheimer’s I was also learning the full story of this incredible musician. The breadth of the artists that have been impacted by his amazing skills was stunning. With comments from members of U2 to the Beatles, it was really amazing to see how this simple country boy managed to pick up a guitar and impact the world of music in a huge way. And he was still rocking it for that final tour. Even as his mind couldn’t remember the names of his children it was like his fingers couldn’t forget how to play the guitar. But what’s most amazing about this movie is how well even in the biographical stuff it never loses it’s focus on what alzheimer’s is doing to this man. Even to the point of genuine awkwardness. The movie doesn’t gloss over the difficulties both on and off the stage choosing to let us live in the sadness of these lost memories and connections enough that we really feel the impact of this awful disease. And yet this man, even in those moments, seems to hold onto humor and grace in a way is incredibly compelling and heartwarming. There’s this moment where Paul McCartney is pouring praise on Glen after a concert, and here he is, one of the most famous musicians of all time, and you just aren’t sure if Glen even recognizes him, and yet he thanks him graciously and sincerely in a way that you know he would whether he was being greeted by a member of the Beatles or an unknown fan. It’s an incredibly poignant moment about the beauty of graciousness and one of many that fill this film.
Now as far as negatives go? I really don’t have much, other than I do feel like the movie kind of stumbled to the end. As if it wasn’t really sure what kind of bow it wanted to tie on the present. It made the last half hour feel a bit unwieldy and lost in itself, and felt as if maybe it could have been edited down a bit.
But overall, I’ll be Me is a wonderful documentary that I think is well worth seeing. The courage of Glen Campbell and his family to let the truth of alzheimers shine this publicly makes for a movie that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, but in both cases necessary to understanding the life of this talented musician and the disease that is stealing his mind. I give it an A-