Title: I Am Paul Walker
Director: Adrian Buitenhuis
Starring: Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson, Rob Cohen
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins
What It Is: This documentary compiles heartwarming yet tear-jerking accounts from family, friends and entertainment professionals who personally knew late actor Paul Walker. The film is something of a cinematic obituary, highlighting the moments and attributes of Paul that made him not only a fantastic actor, but an even more phenomenal son, brother, and father.
What We Think: Someone dying is always a sad time, but it’s a unique kind of devastating when you truly understand the kind of person that was lost. This nonfiction piece has a narrative form of diving into the material presented, investing into the side of a person we all knew as only the face of intense action and badass explosions. Documentaries typically can adopt the burden of being too heavy withdrawn out information, and yet it is easy to get invested into the life of a person one doesn’t even know. This kind of exploration reiterates that celebrities are still people, and diving into the deceased’s life off-camera presents an endearing example of how to touch the hearts of people with the story of a stranger. What is it that we as human beings most value about life and free will? Did we appreciate the factual exploration of some movie star because of how cool he looks driving a motorcycle on top of a moving train? Did we love how ruthlessly he could threaten a character mother and her baby with a gun? Do we adore his status of Hollywood success and wealth? This documentary reveals that such characteristics about a person, even a celebrity, are meaningless when you can dive deep into information that is truly worth talking about; a son whose parents’ hearts he warmed with every smile, a brother who happily picks up a portion of the household’s burden following a painful divorce, a father who would sacrifice multi-million dollar contracts to take his daughter trick or treating. This review isn’t meant to glorify the kind of person that Paul Walker was, but to show how such a presentation of a genuinely loved person can make someone want to glorify him, or anyone for that matter.
Our Grade: A-, Being as documentaries are highly fact-based, its difficult to pick them apart on a cinematic level. The real judgment is left with how creatively the piece delved into presenting the material, how interesting or traumatizing or heartfelt or controversial it made it’s viewers react. Paul Walker’s life is picked apart and put on display in a very tasteful way in this piece, giving true appreciation for the person we all never really knew.