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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GLEN CAMPBELL: I'LL BE ME


By D.E.Levine

When legendary and beloved recording artist Glen Campbell announced that he had Alzheimer 's disease, he decided to do one final farewell tour.

Enlisting the aid of director James Keach, we see Campbell's valiant struggle against a non-curable disease that encroaches further upon him daily.

Campbell has truly done a courageous thing by allowing the public to see the ravages of the disease as they attack his mind.  Opening with scenes of Campbell and wife Kim watching old home movies where he frequently cannot recognize himself or his children, the film takes us right into his doctor's offices at the Mayo Clinic where unable to respond to basic historical questions Campbell finally says, "I can play guitar".

His musical skills remain intact as we see his mental state deteriorate.  And, don't think that Campbell isn't aware of the disease.  Viewers see him preparing for an appearance on The Tonight Show, which goes perfectly, and is followed by his triumphant outburst that he "got through it".

It is heartbreaking to watch this gentle, talented man lose his mental abilities.  On tour to promote his 2011 album Ghost on the Canvas, he is carefully monitored by his wife and children, three of whom appear and perform with him on stage.

Although he never loses his skills at playing instrumentally, his memory deteriorates and he forgets the words to even old classics and depends increasingly on a Teleprompter.  The tender interaction of his spouse and children who watch over him and repeatedly explain that he's losing his memory is  touching and heartbreaking simultaneously.  Campbell, however, remains consistently upbeat.

Finally, at the end of the tour in Napa, California, Campbell can barely get through the performance and is completely unaware that he has played his last performance on stage.  Keach doesn't camouflage the effects of the disease as Campbell becomes frustrated in situations where his memory fails him and phases totally out of other situations.

The end of the film is a touching reunion of Campbell with The Wrecking Crew, one of the all time great session bands, when they record "I'm Not Gonna Miss You", which will be his last record.