“Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” is a difficult but important film to watch. This documentary chronicles Campbell’s final tour following his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease. The tour was supposed to last 5 weeks but lasted an unprecedented year and a half, selling out all 151 shows. While we see him at his lowest point, the sad moments are tempered with love and support from his fans. What really struck me about the film is the love that Campbell receives from his family. I had subconsciously acknowledged the fact that the film does not contain the profanity that you generally expect from a highly emotional film like this one, but it all made sense when the family revealed their strong Christian faith. The family’s support for Glen is incredible. I cannot even imagine the frustration that they must have felt throughout the difficult rehearsals, all the while watching their husband/father slowly forget their names; however, it becomes clear that he must continue to make music because performing actually increased his cognitive ability and retention. That’s the power of music and pursuing your passion. This is a man that he can’t even remember the first president of the United States but then he can improvise this incredible blues guitar solo like it’s nothing. It is inspiring to see him summon every bit of focus to perform hits like “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman” for audiences who adore him. Even as he struggles to record his final song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” it is evident that his mind is slipping but his heart is still full of music. There are brief splashes of biographical information but the focus is truly on the present as he navigates his final tour and learns to deal with his degenerative disease. Amidst the sad regression, I found a silver lining in the musicianship of his daughter, Ashley. She was only 25 years old during the production of this documentary but she held her ground onstage with a living legend of country music. Without question, his legacy will live on through her. Just as we saw with the release of Julianne Moore’s “Still Alice,” Alzheimer’s is a hot-button issue faced by many families in the United States and the growing awareness of the disease has inspired many to invest in a solution to this painful problem. “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” is very sad, but it is also a fitting tribute to one of history’s greatest country singers.
[Pictured: Even as his mind slips away, Glen Campbell still has music in his heart]