Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (2014)

glen campbell ill be me poster 2014 movie documentary
8.0 Overall Score

Raises good questions about Alzheimer's

Misses some opportunities

Movie Info

Movie Name: Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

Studio:  PCH Films

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s):  April 19, 2014 (Nashville Film Festival)/October 24, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

glen campbell ill be me alzheimers

When you stop recognizing the face in the mirror

Glen Campbell sets out on tour after his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease.  As Glen travels the country performing with his wife and family, the disease takes his toll.  The tour is met with success but struggles.  Some days are good, but many days are bad.  Alzheimer’s disease is taking one of the great performers…but Glen Campbell isn’t giving up.

Directed by James Keach, Glen Campbell:  I’ll Be Me is a documentary featuring singer Glen Campbell (April 22, 1936-August 8, 2017) on his final tour as he battles Alzheimer’s disease.  The film was met with positive reviews and received an Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song (“I’m Not Gonna Miss You”).

Having some experience with Alzheimer’s and dementia, this movie is rough.  I can see a lot of my mother’s fight with the loss of her memory in Campbell at points, but as mentioned in the documentary, Alzheimer’s affects everyone differently.  The film’s best attributes are getting a discussion about the disease out there, and the question of if what his family is doing is right.

glen campbell ill be me alzheimers doctors office

Slipping away

The disease is a beast.  One day you can be having a nice conversation and the next day you can be yelling about golf clubs.  The film does cover much of the range of the disease.  You see Campbell joking, but I can see in the jokes a fear of what is really going on.  He knows he isn’t right, but he doesn’t know why he isn’t right and what is wrong with him.  Despite all this, Campbell can pick up a guitar and pick better than many people ever will with a clear and healthy mind…it is automatic for him.

This is where the family debate comes in, and I go both ways with it.  Campbell would probably have deteriorated much quicker without performing.  You can see him come alive on stage and for a second, he forgets anything is wrong…and that is important.  As the title says:  I’ll Be Me.  It is a way to keep the bad moments away.

glen campbell ill be me final concert alzheimers

The cringe-worthy last concert

The flipside of that is the question of is it what Campbell really would want.  As a perfectionist and a performer, he probably wants to give the best concert to his fans…and these performances are definitely not his best even if there are glimmers of the original performer.  His early performances and the understanding of the crowd goes a long way, but some of the performances near the end should never have happened…the audience would have understood and Campbell was content without performing.  Patterns are part of the disease and disrupting them isn’t always good.  If he thinks he performed the night before and he didn’t, it really doesn’t matter…he still has the belief that he had a good time performing.

Glen Campbell:  I’ll Be Me is a showcase for the struggles facing people with Alzheimer’s and their families.  Campbell was getting the best treatment possible…now, imagine those who can’t afford to have their spouse watch them all the time or even put them in a home.  While Campbell shows the crippling effect of the disease, the cost and the financial price that goes with it isn’t an issue.  It might have been nice to see some of the bills received for his treatment to show that it can destroy a person and their family in many ways.  Something that could have helped make the point even stronger.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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