Judge Daniel Kelly devotes this review to the memory of Heath Ledger.
On January 22nd, 2008, actor Heath Ledger was found unconscious in his Manhattan apartment and died shortly after. He was only 28 at the time and left behind a baby daughter named Matilda, along with legions of adoring fans and fascinated critics. This is a short film that acts more as chronicle of Heath's professional career rather than a tribute that hits any real emotional depths, but nonetheless, it's interesting and provides a few bittersweet observations concerning the man's outlook on his profession, his daughter, his girlfriends, and how he felt about the film industry.
Some people might argue that Tribute to Heath Ledger is a superficial piece of filmmaking designed to cash grab on the actor's popularity and tragic death. I agree that as far as a truly emotional experience, the picture is left a little bit wanting, but that's not to say it has no worth. The piece actually provides an intriguing investigation of the professional career the thespian left behind occasionally touching on the softer aspects of love and personal opinion.
Fans of Ledger will no doubt revel in another opportunity to celebrate the admittedly uneven career of their hero, like all fantastic performers Ledger had his share of turkey's but they were made all the more disappointing due to the fact the wonderfully gifted Australian actor was in them. Of course the film goes for broke in trumpeting Ledger's legendary performance in last year's excellent The Dark Knight, but why shouldn't it? Ledger's turn as the Joker was awesome, and this little slice of documentary lets you know it. In many ways, even though this picture actually features little in the way of human exploration, the very fact it praises Ledger's best work's as fully as it does is tribute enough.
People will learn a few trinkets that might have otherwise remained an enigma about the man, and some of the interview footage is interesting and a little revealing. We get short glimpses of Ledger's impressions of the world he worked in. Topics outside of the film industry are rarely mentioned by Ledger, but it was clear that the cynical world of Hollywood was certainly one he never wanted to be part of. His craft was acting not commercially selling himself, and from the youngest of ages it seems that's the way he felt. It's also abundantly clear that he was devoted to their daughter and ex-partner Michelle Williams, many might consider this an obvious point to note, but hearing Ledger talk about them, it's clear he genuinely adored the pair.
The narration that carries the film onward is a little monotonous and devoid of emotion but it's a forgivable flaw, this is an otherwise rather gratifying look at one of Hollywood's most tragic stories. Those who know the man's career and interview record like the back of their hands might want to skip it, as there is little revolutionary or mysterious uncovered here, but for others it's a good rental if you want to understand Heath the artist just a little bit better. The extras are just extended parts of the documentary with a few extra interviews and facts thrown in, no worse or less rewarding than the feature itself.
R.I.P Heath Ledger. You where a great performer and will be missed by film fanatics everywhere. This documentary doesn't break a whole lot of new ground but it is nonetheless a fine way to further enhance one's knowledge of an Academy Award winning actor who tragically fell just as greatness beckoned.
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