STILL: A MICHAEL J. FOX MOVIE. He has returned to the future [REVIEW]

A great documentary by Davis Guggenheim proves that Michael J. Fox is alive and – against all odds – doing quite well.

Lukasz Homziuk

13 May 2023

Sometimes the little finger on the hand decides the whole life. One morning you abruptly wake up from your sleep and wave your hand away from the insistent rays of the sun, but one of them hits your eyes with all its strength. The intertwined fingers suddenly ceased to be an impenetrable monolith. You mobilize all your muscles just to get that one finger back into place. It does not return. Maybe it’s nothing, after all, a bad day happens to everyone. But you have a feeling that this is not a one-off prank of a tired organism, but a cursed prophecy that cannot be prevented in any way. After all, no one has yet discovered the needed medicine, much less invented a time machine. A few months later, the doctor hands you a leaflet – that’s all he can do for you. You see fake smiles glued to the faces of the sick and you know for sure: the world has just ended.

But is it really over? A great documentary by Davis Guggenheim proves that Michael J. Fox is alive and – against all odds – doing quite well. This does not mean that Still is clear of painful moments. You can’t and shouldn’t make Parkinson’s a feel-good movie. It’s hard not to hold your breath when, in one scene, the shockingly clumsy Michael suddenly collapses onto the pavement. However, the terror does not last long. The disease limited Fox’s movements but did not take away his comedic timing. “You’ve brought me to my knees,” he throws enthusiastically at a passing woman, turning his weakness into a joke. He doesn’t always keep his cool. There are also moments in this documentary when even the always outspoken actor lacks words and his eyes glaze over with tears. The director allows these moments to resound without drowning them out with a comic punch line. At the same time, the film is by no means a poor tearjerker. Michael doesn’t want to feel sorry for himself. He prefers to tell about the most interesting moments of life with his characteristic lightness and sense of humour.

The Guggenheim keeps up with Fox. Still doesn’t let you wink at all. Whoever was afraid of a boring enumeration of details from the actor’s life will be pleasantly surprised. Weaved from intriguing digressions and sincere reflections, Michael’s story is usually heard off-screen, and on the screen it is accompanied by creatively juxtaposed fragments of films with Fox’s participation. This formula wears off over time, but at times the Guggenheim manages to achieve phenomenal results. The most intense part of Michael’s career, when he worked simultaneously on the sets of Back to the Future and the hit sitcom Family Ties, finding maybe 3 hours of sleep in the meantime, is depicted in a gripping sequence of scenes edited as if we were watching a real survival thriller. workload. Nothing would capture the mad rush for Hollywood success better than this equally crazy montage.

After watching snippets of Fox films on Still, it dawned on me how much physical intensity there was in his roles. His bursting energy has become his trademark, which is why the original title of the documentary is quite paradoxical. Michael from an early age did not resemble a sedate oasis of peace, but an untamed urchin. He never sat still, he was always on the go. He passed on this childish verve to his characters, and then with it he would burst the screen. Today it is still in motion, but of a completely different kind. Movement uncontrolled and devoid of vitality. The one where the disease imprisoned him.

In the film’s most poignant scene, the Guggenheim asks Fox to show his joy. The actor tries to smile, but fails at all. Not even a grimace appears. The face remains exactly the same as before, hidden under a Parkinsonian mask. However, this mask, fortunately, does not cover the man. Michael J. Fox is an actor and Parkinson’s patient, but above all, he is a man who wants to enjoy life as long as possible without taking himself and his limitations too seriously. That is why the most beautiful moments in Still are the moments of family bliss, when the actor, his wife and daughters talk, play puns, and laugh together. Also from Michael and his clumsiness. It’s not easy to laugh in the face of a hopeless illness, but Fox can keep his distance. Finally, in one of the scenes, he convinces himself that he is a “tough son of a bitch”. After seeing Still, I have no reason not to believe him.

Lukasz Homziuk

Lukasz Homziuk

A student of cultural studies in Wroclaw, Poland. He can watch everything, although he usually prefers arthouse over Marvel.

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