Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie15
Once in a while an actor comes along whom audiences just respond to in such a positive fashion, that it just manifests itself into an almost overpowering sense of adoration. One such actor is Michael J. Fox.
He got his first big break in the early eighties starring in the hugely successful US sitcom Family Ties. But his career was to go to a whole other level in 1985, when he released two films at the same time: one was Teen Wolf and the other was Back to the Future. The rest, as they say, is history.
But this phenomenal success was to be derailed when the young star was diagnosed in 1991 with Parkinson’s disease.
This documentary charts this success, in Fox’s own words, as well as how the now 61 year old is dealing with his debilitating disease.
It’s directed by Davis Guggenheim, who is probably best remembered for helming the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and this is an impressive biography created with a fair amount of skill and flair.
Guggenheim cleverly uses clips from a huge array of Fox’s films to document his star’s own personal journey. It’s a technique that must have been a painstaking process to cut together, but it’s extremely effective. It also serves as a reminder of the hold Fox had over audiences with his enigmatic presence on screen.
The most touching scenes however mostly feature the camera focused on Fox today, and although there’s clear evidence that the disease has taken its toll on him physically, that almost indescribable light inside him that helped make him such a global success is still there for all to see.
It’s a difficult watch at times, simply watching Fox move around, in such a precarious fashion, that falls to the ground are inevitable, which Guggenheim bravely doesn’t shy away from showing, because it’s followed by him getting back to his feet again. But as the documentary reveals, it’s not always without injury, with the star having broken numerous bones from seemingly innocuous falls, such is the grip this horrible disease has on him physically.
Where the film feels lacking somewhat, is with contributions from his peers, of which there are none; perhaps the director felt that putting only Fox in the spotlight, and only Fox, would mean the focus was all on him, which it is. But there does feel a missed opportunity for his colleagues to convey this love for the actor that audiences have felt over the years watching his films.
The film also has somewhat of an abrupt ending, which comes across as a little rushed and unfinished. It's ironic that the stillness that the title suggests comes by way of the film's sudden ending.
There's a bravery that Fox shows, in revealing what this disease has done to him, but it's also clear that he has no intentions of giving in to it, or letting it beat him any time soon, with equal shares of optimism and defiance.
It's a documentary that not only serves as illustrating what a unique talent Fox is, but also why we all fell in love with him in the first place.