In Theaters July 23, on Amazon Prime August 6.
Val Kilmer has been a professional film actor since 1984. However, he has always gravitated toward a camera – making funny home movies and shorts with his brothers Mark and Wesley.
He was an early adopter of a video camera and has kept all of his tapes – movies of auditions, home movies, film ideas and behind-the-scenes at actual shoots.
This documentary uses Kilmer’s footage combined with directors Ting Poo’s and Leo Scott’s added recent footage to create a biographical montage of Kilmer’s career, childhood and life.
Kilmer is recovering from throat cancer so his speech is difficult to understand, so Val’s son Jack narrates this documentary. Jack’s voice is so similar to Val’s that it seems as if Val is actually narrating, yet, Jack’s demeanor is much more stoic, offering a very relaxing and engaging tone.
Kilmer sees acting as a means to seek truth through illusion – to take a theatrical production and draw viewers into this creative endeavor and both entertain and move them. He has never sought the trappings of fame, but searched for fulfillment in his chosen craft.
“Val” begins with Kilmer’s childhood, tackling the roots of his love for acting. He was the youngest student to ever be accepted to Julliard School Of Performing Arts where he met Kelly McGillis. Soon after graduating he entered the New York theater scene where he met other young up-and-coming actors such as Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn.
Kilmer’s perspective is both honest and respectful. He doesn’t dish dirt on fellow actors, but instead gives an insider’s view of both the difficulties of working in Hollywood and the triumphs. It is very obvious that he has never sought the fame that some of his contemporaries have gained which galvanizes this documentary with a stronger truth knowing there is no agenda behind this perspective. In addition, Kilmer is unsure if his voice will ever heal, so he may have given his final performance.
We get insights into his early films, features that have made him a Hollywood icon. We discover that he reluctantly took the role of Iceman in 1985’s “Top Gun,” and although he had no real interest in macho movies, he embraced the role by digging deeper into the character’s backstory and cultivated the rivalry between the two groups of “pilots” in the film.
We learn of his loves, wife Joanne Whalley, his children Jack and Mercedes. We also find insights into his relationships with many people throughout his life, his parents, his fellow actors and his family.
His honesty in regards to his wealth and the losses of that wealth also paints a more complete picture of the man. Bouncing between the prime times of his career and the present gives a sobering contrast to both Kilmer and viewers as to the fleeting nature of life and a career.
Not every famous person’s story is remarkable, but Val Kilmer’s story is vulnerable and honest, insightful and skilled as it shrugs off the expectations many will have about this iconic actor. Kilmer’s rollercoaster life offers a simple truth – that maybe all our lives are remarkable because we have lived them.