"Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me" opens with the Alzheimer's-afflicted singer watching home-movie footage while his wife, Kimberly, prompts him to identify the younger faces — including his own — flickering across the screen.
It's just one of the deeply moving moments that make up the director James Keach's documentary, which should be an Oscar contender. The film puts a brave, much-adored face on a disease that has touched so many families.
Chronicling the country great's final concert tour, the extremely intimate film follows Campbell's mounting challenges, both on stage and off, in the months following his 2011 diagnosis.
Testimonials from Campbell's diverse fan base include Bruce Springsteen, Bill Clinton and Steve Martin, who was a young writer on "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," but it's the performance footage that speaks most eloquently.
Surprising his neurologist with his still-keen musical skills even as brain scans indicate worsening cognitive abilities, Campbell embarks on what would become a 151-date tour, handling the occasional forgotten lyric or chord key with humor and grace. As the tour and the disease progress, it's clear that his concert in Napa in late 2012 would be his last.
Soon after, Campbell, now 78, co-wrote and recorded his final song, the recently released "I'm Not Gonna Miss You." But it's ultimately another song — the opener for those farewell concerts, "Gentle on My Mind" — and the tenderly sung lyrics "It's knowing I'm not shackled by forgotten words and bonds" that deliver a truly touching poignancy.
'Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me'
MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements, brief language
Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills; AMC Burbank Town Center 8