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Sundance 2023 Review – STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie – “A celebration of a fighting spirit”

Michael J. Fox recalls the challenges of being physically short, the desire and struggle to become an actor, dealing with Hollywood stardom, getting married and having children, and the initial denial and then acceptance of having Parkinson’s disease.    

There is a scene of Michael J. Fox walking on the street with his personal trainer and he tumbles to the ground; there is a Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin slapstick pratfall feel but in truth it is a sad comment on how much Parkinson’s disease has come to shape his life.  Documentarian Davis Guggenheim has assembled and repeated enough archival and re-enactment footage of Fox running to leave even Tom Cruise gasping for air.  It is this need to move quickly that the body cannot longer handle and the compromised physical coordination means that the actor turned Parkinson’s philanthropist is literally an accident waiting to happen resulting in an array of broken bones.

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Mentally Fox remains fully intact as does his wit; it is just that the words and the comedic timing is laboured as more effort is required to complete sentences.  A potent comment occurs when he states that the three sentences dealing with the death of his father come with 10,000 pounds of emotion.  It is clear that a saving grace for Fox is his family which provides him with a solid grounding.  However, one cannot avoid feeling sad when looking at the rascally 16-year-old become an elderly man with a body that he can no longer completely control. The Emmy Award-winner is forthcoming though not completely willing to confess to his culpability in letting his fame get the best of him.  To the credit of Fox and Guggenheim, this is not a memorial service but a celebration of a fighting spirit that despite of the increasing odds has continued to move forward.

The 2023 Sundance Film Festival takes place January 19–29, 2023, in person and online, and for more infomration visit sundance.org.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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