Film Review: I AM HEATH LEDGER (Canada 2017)

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i_am_heath_ledger.jpgFriends and family of the late actor Heath Ledger remember his life and career.

Directors: Adrian Buitenhuis, Derik Murray
Writer: Hart Snider
Stars: Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, Ben Mendelsohn

Review by Gilbert Seah

Thunderbird Entertainment is releasing I AM HEATH LEDGER in select Cineplex theatres across Canada for a special event screening on May 4th, Thursday. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23rd, and takes an intimate look at the remarkable life and career of Heath Ledger, featuring interviews with Naomi Watts, Ben Mendelsohn, Ang Lee as well as his family and closest friends.
The big question is why would anyone but a true Heath Ledger fan want to spend 90 minutes of their lifetime in a theatre watching a documentary of his life.

Before dismissing the film, it should be noted that there are many things that can be learnt from the film, and from the life of Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger died from cardiac arrest after taking prescription drugs. He won an Oscar (posthumously) for his role of The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT and did a great job as a gay cowboy in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, his two biggest roles (clips shown). But there is a lot of the man that many do not know.

The doc on Heath Ledger begins with a musician who talks candidly about the late Australian actor. Ledger has no time for anything that has no risk. He lived on the edge.” And more important, these words, “He is one person that is too big for this world.”

These are other quotations describing Heath Ledger:
Heath lived life to its fullest.
He knew everything about the camera.
He was documenting everything. He never stopped.
Music was always in him.
He was big in sharing in success.
He truly was an artist.

He was a one-man force of nature (referring to his video direction).
The most engaging effect of Ledger is his energy. He would show up at the early morning at friend’s place for breakfast and never run out of ideas as a filmmaker. His constant proximity to a camera allows his doc to show many candid footage of the artist. A few of these show his limitless energy, which is indeed catching and admirable.

Offering insight are the interviews with the famous actors who have worked with Ledger in his other films. Among them are Mel Gibson in THE PATRIOT, Emile Hirsch and Naomi Watts in LORDS OF DOGTOWN and Djimon Hounsou in THE FOUR FEATHERS.

The film spends time on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and with reason. Director of the film Ang Lee speaks of his performance how he would nail the acting target. This was the film which he, a top star of the time, plays a gay cowboy. It was a film that changed Ledger’s life for two reasons. It marked his maturity as an actor and he met future wife, Michelle Williams, who had a supporting role in the film.

The film is biased in that it sidesteps any bad characteristics of Ledger. His drug use is totally dismissed with nothing mentioned also of his partying and drinking. Unlike the doc on Amy Winehouse, AMY which shows both sides of that singer/songwriter, I AM HEATH LEDGER only shows one side, the good side of Heath Ledger.



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