Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (2014)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5

USA, 2014Cinematography by Produced by , Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by .

For decades, has been one of the most successful and beloved singers in the genre of country music, announcers introducing him usually apply the word “legendary” and it’s not just because of his age. In his early seventies, Campbell has learned the devastating news that he has Alzheimer’s disease; his devoted wife  is by his side at every doctor’s visit and treatment, and it is clear to anyone paying close enough attention to this heartfelt documentary by James Keach that the majority of the burden is placed on her when Campbell is faced with a remarkable personal challenge. His illness comes just after the release of his album Ghost on The Canvas, and the couple are considering whether or not to commit to his taking the album on the road for a national tour, a dicey prospect considering that Campbell has trouble remembering his friend’s names.  His family believes they can support him on this undertaking, though, and so they make it happen, and once the performances begin, something magical happens: whatever is causing the disintegration of Campbell’s mind is not taking away his ability to make music, and he pulls off over a hundred performances in which his vocals and guitar-playing never falter (though his onstage banter gets a bit loose by the end of the tour). Loving, warm and brightened up by so much wonderful music, this film’s first great achievement is as a tribute to the spirit of this subject’s family, particularly watching Kim bear the weight of all the worry involved in keeping her husband on his feet without ever complaining or showing signs of frustration (and how can you not love a woman who, when a doctor asks her husband how old he is to test his memory and he looks at her for the answer, responds by wordlessly singing “Seventy-Six Trombones”?). The film’s other mark of greatness is as a reminder that we must always examine our definition of what is important in life; the man who hit the highest heights of fame and fortune is given a tribute at the Grammys worthy of royalty, and the next day has absolutely no recollection of it happening.  Even if you’ve never paid Glen Campbell any attention, this film will win you over and you will hold it in your heart for a very long time.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Original Song (“I’m Not Gonna Miss You”)

Critics Choice Award Nomination: Best Documentary Feature

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