Still: A Michael J Fox Movie
David Guggenheim’s documentary on Michael J Fox takes viewers on a rollercoaster journey through the actor’s rise to success, his marriage with Tracy Pollan, and his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. Still: A Michael J Fox Movie uses excerpts from its subject’s books to narrate events, alongside a mix of archival footage and clips from his old roles, video samples of his present-day life, and reenactments of his childhood. This multiplicity helps break down his experience in the most digestible manner, whilst still maintaining all the heart and the whirlwind of emotions he felt in each specific timeframe.
The film is an absolute masterclass in editing, with well-timed music and synchronised clips and narration. Everything on-screen is relevant to the story relayed, whether it’s through passages from his books or the audio of his interview with Guggenheim. As the subject alone, Fox carries the documentary with his charisma, energy and wit. There’s honesty in his answers to Guggenheim’s queries, and, while most of the feature consists of clips of his characters and dramatised sequences portrayed by actors, there’s still a layer of vulnerability that comes through the screen.
One of the most jarring and effective moments is the back-and-forth between filming Back to the Future and Family Ties. He earnestly admits, “I experienced confusion as to which set I was on, and basically who I was in the first place.” This line, accompanied by the fast-paced transition of clips and the erratic music haunting the star every step of the way, perfectly conveys the chaotic setup. Still, there remains a part of him that the audience will never truly uncover – a case in point the fact that he hid his condition for seven years. This is highlighted by the actors playing Fox, their faces constantly obscured from the camera. More than a metaphor for secrecy, this technique also echoes his feelings about his identity – or lack thereof: “Everywhere I looked, there’s some image reflected back at me. None of them was a true representation of my real self, whoever that was.”
While Still: A Michael J Fox Movie is excellent on the whole, there’s one major thing missing. The other half of Fox’s success is his voiceover work through the years, from films like Stuart Little to Homeward Bound; it’s quite a shame that Guggenheim didn’t take time to explore – or even mention – that part of of the actor’s life.
Still: A Michael J Fox Movie is in UK cinemas and on Apple TV+ on 12th May 2023.
Watch the trailer for Still: A Michael J Fox Movie here: