Davis Guggenheim, directed by Michael J. "Walking really scares people," Fox said of Apple's "Steel." Michael J. in the Fox Movie documentary. And it sure is fun to watch him struggle to navigate the New York City sidewalks with his physical therapist by his side. A dog barks. Other people say hello. And then he falls.
He is not wrong. At first, it's "terrifying" to see Fox's Parkinson's disease in its entirety on film. It is definitely heartbreaking to understand the pain in her body or to see how the makeup artist covers the place where she broke her face after a fall. As heartbreaking as that sounds, Foxx is nothing short of a sympathetic character, and he and Guggenheim made a sympathetic film about his suffering and resilience without turning him into a martyr. It's not without some of the traditional trappings of famous documentaries, but it refuses to be sentimental when it's so easy.
At its most basic level, Steele follows Fox's career from a young boy his own age in Canada to high school dropout to Hollywood's biggest star, and how things change when he learns. Before this age, he had Parkinson's disease. Fox's voice over 30 dominates the document and seems to be the only one talking. Occasionally, Guggenheim interjects to ask Fox a question about his mental or physical state, but for the most part this is Fox's story in Fox's words.
The clever conceit that Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) uses to tell Fox's story involves cross-referencing the actor's film and television appearances to match his real life. In other words, Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly became famous on stage. Scenes from "Family Ties" and "Bright City Lights" show his romance with Tracy Pollan. As she tries to deny the problems her body is facing, she screams "Mars is attacking!" These images of Fox running with perfect rhythm and frequent punches are a stark contrast to the images of Fox today, where his thoughts seem to move faster than his ability to speak and his legs constantly fail.
A combination of footage from Fox's career sometimes reveals more than just his talent and star qualities. As Fox explains, after she was diagnosed, she wore a brace on her left hand to hide the tremors, we see her in action, the very thing she worked so hard to hide, visible to our eyes.
Unlike other techniques used by the Guggenheim, Fox's choice to depict life through projects made him a star. Combining these clips with the staged entertainment of the show feels unnecessary and fake. When the audience is used to seeing Fox in the events of his life, Guggenheim moves behind the head of an actor who replaces Fox to connect the events of the story. The heavy shadows and slow pace that define these moments are lacking compared to the Fox franchise.
And Fox is honest, not only about his illness, but also about personal failures. He explains that even before Parkinson's disease, he was an absentee husband and father seeking glory for his family. He described focusing on alcohol instead of dealing with the reality of his condition in the years leading up to his public disclosure of Parkinson's disease. Michael J. Fox's Unhealthy Idea. Just below the surface of the "real estate" lies shock, and it's an idea that Guggenheim touches on but doesn't fully explore.
While Steel isn't exactly hagiography, it's also not a film that tries to explore the undoubted faults of its subject. This leaves a small hole in the featured portrait. Parkinson's disease challenges Fox's body, turning every step into a struggle. At the same time, he openly claims that this has made him a more honest and loving person. It's worth thinking about the costs and benefits associated with those trade-offs. Instead, "Still" opts for a happier, less emotional ending.
It can be everything you could hope for. The subtitle tells us that this is "Michael J. Fox's film", as if telegraphing that it would convey all the nostalgia and charm of the work that made him such an unusual and compelling figure in the world. Hollywood skyline. It's actually a great reminder of the joy of watching Fox on screen. It's also great when he's not afraid to scare people.
Stone circles. Michael J. Fox's film premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Apple will release it later this year