On 22nd January 2008, the world lost Heath Ledger. Out of the blue, and a complete shock to everybody, Heath was reported to be naked, on the floor of Mary-Kate Olsen’s apartment with pills spilled nearby. What followed was a world in mourning having lost one of its brightest talents and a litter of theories on Heath’s mental state, probable overdose and intentions.
Questions ensued: Was it due to his depression brought on by inhabiting the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 movie The Dark Knight? Was it due to his breakup with Michelle Williams? Was there something more about being found naked on Mary-Kate Olsen’s apartment floor? Nine years on and we know little more than the fact that it was a cardiac arrest and probable accidental death.
Does I am Heath Ledger cast light on anything new regarding his death? No. In fact, Heath’s death and its mystery are but a mere footnote in the documentary.
I am Heath Ledger is humbler than most documentaries – it seeks to shed light on the man himself and nothing more. Starting from the age of 17 when Heath Ledger left school, we follow him on his journey to Sydney and then LA with one aim in mind: to be an actor.
Told through multiple accounts from those closest to him including his family, best friends and famous Aussie actors that he knew and helped in LA, we get an insight into who he was, what his ambitions were, the quirks that drove him and the generosity that was legendary.
Indeed, Heath Ledger was a driven man, with an obsession with cameras and filming anything and everything he could, a love for music and a generous heart that saw him take in multiple actors into his home that were making their first trip to LA from Australia. This documentary covers all of that, sometimes through unseen footage filmed by the man himself and sometimes through insights from friends and family.
The documentary also plays as a greatest hits, covering all of his TV and movie roles until his untimely death and providing behind the scenes commentary on his mental state, self doubt and insight from film makers on how he was unbelievably talented and always tried to live life on the edge, which was reflected in the roles he took and never typical of the Hollywood hunk he was portrayed as.
Using his greatest hits from start to end, the documentary moves in a linear fashion and ends on his death, which it does not cover bar mentioning that he died and how his family, friends and the world reacted to it.
Although an enjoyable documentary, my only reservations about I am Heath Ledger are that it read more as an IMDB film-by-film look at Heath Ledger’s career and focussed only on the magnitude of the man and very little on his mental state.
Indeed, if you are a fan of Heath Ledger this movie will only make you adore him more, but it does not delve deep enough into some of the mysteries surrounding his death almost as if it was a documentary made with the intention never to dig into his life in a way that would offend his family. It only ever talks to those that had the best words to say about him and never veers from its intentions to portray him as supremely talented, generous, hugely ambitious and humble.
Maybe I’m naïve and maybe he was all of those things completely – I just didn’t feel that there was any effort to go past the surface to see if there was more. Why was he on so many different types of medication? Why was he naked on the floor of Mary-Kate Olsen’s apartment? Did he have other health issues aside from insomnia? Why was it not covered?