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KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to and which are a pass. The Friday Film Review airs at 7:20 a.m., during the Noon News and in The Local View. KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are: Barb Bretz, Rick Brough, Mark Harrington and Linda Jager.

Friday Film Review | 'I Am: Celine Dion'

Celine Dion’s voice elevated her into a global superstar, selling out stadiums and hitting some otherworldly notes. In the new documentary, “I Am: Celine Dion,” she shares her struggles with a debilitating disease and how she fights to keep her lifelong desire to sing alive. 

I am in a rare and honored position to have made a film about Celine Dion for Vh1’s “Behind the Music” when I was a producer for the series. She was at the height of her career and such a humble and kind person.

The new documentary, “I Am: Celine Dion,” directed by Irene Taylor, is a much different kind of film - because this megastar, who once performed in front of thousands, had a Las Vegas residency, and sold millions of records, has been battling a rare disease called Stiff Person’s Syndrome. It’s a neurological disorder that affects one in one million, mostly women, and has no cure.

The film is part real time, part past time and deeply intimate. There’s lots of footage of Dion on stage delivering high energy performances cut with her alone in her living room vacuuming her couch, managing a tower of pills, and cracking jokes with her twins. The contrast of life before she became afflicted with this condition and life after is stark.

“I think I was very good,” Dion says about her career after seeing sequined costumes in her warehouse filled with memories. The “was” is devastatingly real and paints a portrait of a woman grieving the loss of all she was, and redefining all she is.

I prefer the footage of Dion now, which shows her humor, grace and strength while transcending her circumstances, over the inconsequential footage of Dion on talk shows, namely her impersonation of Sia that goes on too long.

Dion is synonymous with the film “Titanic.” She recorded the career defining song, “My Heart Will Go On,” which continues to be one of the most recognizable songs in the history of film and music. It struck me odd that the director chose to highlight the “Carpool Karaoke” version with James Corden. It didn’t do her soaring ballad justice.

She talks intimately about what singing means to her and how this disease has robbed her of that gift, but words just can’t describe what she’s gone through. As Dion goes into the studio to record a new song, she suffers a seizure. The cameras continue to roll. It’s a terrifying and gut-wrenching scene.

Hard to watch and yet there’s hope.

With the final image of a teenage Dion staring up at stage lights, her dream to sing for audiences realized, I was left with the feeling that Dion’s grace and strength will carry her through.

“I Am: Celine Dion” is rated PG and streams on Prime Video.