Film Festival Movie Review

Film Review: I AM HEATH LEDGER (2017): A Brilliant Tribute Celebrating the Life of an Artist [Tribeca 2017]

I Am Heath Ledger

I Am Heath Ledger Review

I Am Heath Ledger (2017) Film Review from the 16th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, a movie directed by Adrian Buitenhuis and Derik Murray starring Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Emile Hirsch, Ang Lee, and Catherine Hardwicke.

I Am Heath Ledger gives audiences a private look at an actor who not only defined his generation as an actor, but who also loved to create his own piece of work for people to see. It’s been nearly a decade since his untimely death, but the film does celebrate his life through footage that Heath Ledger captured on his video camera. The documentary fits well in a cable format as it was produced by Spike TV. Directors Derik Murray and Adrian Buitenhuis have carefully crafted a story about an actor who had dreams to make it in the industry by featuring his homemade videos and various interviews with family, friends, and co-workers who give viewers a better understanding of who he was.

The footage gives viewers a window into the daily life of Heath Ledger when he was starting out in Hollywood all the way to when he already broke out in the industry. We see him doing some acting exercises, acting silly on set, and other shenanigans that he does with his closest friends. The film doesn’t focus solely on Ledger’s acting ability, but more on what motivates him. The videos he makes isn’t just used to self-document himself, Ledger was trying to create a piece of art with them. All of that filming helped the actor launch his own movie and music production company.

Not only does I Am Heath Ledger manage to balance between telling a story and showing affection to it’s subject, but it also has viewers discover that Ledger was an expert in his craft and had a bright future ahead of him. Passing away at the young age of 28, the documentary makes a strong case of what could’ve been but never forgets that the actor has already become a huge staple in Hollywood.

The film goes into Heath Ledger’s humble beginnings when he grew up in Australia and ends up moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. The documentary features interviews with his family, close friends, and colleagues that he worked with. It was nice having some of Australia’s own talent in Hollywood like Naomi Watts and Ben Mendelsohn to talk about working with him knowing they all had a similar background. It was also good to see clips of his best work, including conversations with his directors Ang Lee and Catherine Hardwicke. Even getting to see his parents, siblings, and his best friends having some kind words to say about their loved one was incredibly moving and emotional.

Heath Ledger’s commitment to his work and yearning for life becomes the driving force of this film. Even though there’s nothing fresh offered in this film, we do learn that Ledger was a creative individual first – sometimes even directing his own work. We see that when he’s constantly filming himself and his life. He doesn’t do it just as a hobby; he was doing it to capture life. He managed to use that experience in the music videos he directed with the likes of Ben Harper, who participated in the documentary talking about Ledger’s visions for his songs when they worked together. It was pretty clear that Ledger was looking to direct a feature-film someday, so he used hi experience as a music video director to help him prepare.

The film does go into detail about his relationship with his ex-fiance Michelle Williams and their daughter. While Williams did give permission for the film, she didn’t want to be included in the documentary. Perhaps she wanted to keep things private as the film moved away from their relationship, which was a smart play.

We also find Heath Ledger to be flooded with creativity, leaving him no time to rest, which became more of a problem than he’d like to admit. His non-stop energy was what led to his death in 2008 after taking too many sleepy pills. After witnessing his incredible roles like Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight, it looked like the young actor was looking forward to seeing what he does next.

I Am Heath Ledger goes deep into Ledger’s artistic ability and avoids going into his celebrity escapades. Rather than going into his cause of death, the documentary just celebrates the life of man who not a lot of people know outside the limelight. Despite wrapping things up nicely, the film manages to deliver its message across. While it was emotional towards the end, the film did leave a lot to think about on following your dreams and never giving in. This feature painted a great picture celebrating the life of man who never faltered and kept going.

Rating: 8/10

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About the author

Mufsin Mahbub

Mufsin is a freelance writer from New York who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at Long Island University. He has written for publications like HollywoodLife, Clubplanet, and Heavy. He is an avid lover for everything related to TV and film. He has gone to dozens of film screenings, press events, and loves to attend New York Comic Con every year. He gives an honest opinion on every TV show or film that people are going to be talking about.

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