“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” sang a twentysomething Paul McCartney in his semi-confrontational love song, an interrogation of romantic commitment through the trials of physical decay.
For Jason DaSilva, the documentary filmmaker behind “When I Walk,” McCartney’s question is neither abstract nor remote. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 25 and robbed of his mobility and motor skills in a frighteningly short spell, DaSilva can’t help asking his girlfriend over a bowl of noodles whether she’ll feed him when he can’t hold a spoon anymore. They’ve been together for less than a year. “That’s an overwhelming question to me right now,” she replies, averting her gaze.
“When I Walk” is a diaristic account of DaSilva’s first six years with MS, from the moment he suddenly falls over during a family vacation to the end of editing this film. It hits the perfect balance between explaining what it’s like to live with the disease and depicting himself as an individual with a particular family life and ambitions.
“You mollycoddled North American kid!” DaSilva’s mother scolds when he admits that continuing his documentary work might prove intolerable. But instead of applauding him for finishing the film despite failing eyesight and manual paralysis, let us do so because, by any measure, “When I Walk” is extraordinarily accomplished, poignant, and wise.
“When I Walk”
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Playing: Laemmle’s Music Hall, Beverly Hills.