Movie Review: When I Walk

By Candace Lee

Following the journey of deteriorating health of Jason DaSilva, When I Walk is a film of great personal value, a reversal of the lens when a filmmaker is presented with his own story to tell, now with pressing urgency.

Maker of several documentaries, including Twins of Mankala, Havana Dreams, A Song for Daniel, and Olivia’s Puzzle, all which have taken him across the globe, DaSilva packages a story much closer to home, filming his day-to-day life as he deals with multiple sclerosis (MS) and its increasingly crippling symptoms, including loss of functionality in his legs, fine motor control, and even dwindling vision, coming to threaten his life’s work.

The film sets off with a shaky start, introducing a disease that is unfamiliar to the audience, one that has multiple sclerosis is and entails. The viewer is told all the drastic symptoms and side effects, yet it is as if a doctor has appeared and told you the medical diagnosis of a stranger; there is an unintentional doubt that sprouts, and is only killed when directly presented with the visual proof that something is wrong. DaSilva takes the audience through that experience of initial denial, offering periodic landmarks of a month and year when something monumental, from necessary transitions in his daily life to times of celebration, has happened, and puts it into context, injecting snippets of what seems to be a video diary and casual interviews with loved ones and those around him.

It is when the years approach the present that we begin to wonder, what has become of Jason DaSilva and his family? When the credits drop onto the screen, the audience begins to have a taste of how emotionally investing the film is, we want to know how the story ends, and if the difficult years we have spent with Jason have all been for naught. And, in a poignant moment, we realize they have not, because we are watching this film, this fruit of his labors, the final product brought especially to us. It was the final step in an arduous, self-reflexive journey of hope, endurance, and a new life that grows from the harshest conditions.

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