Introducing, Selma Blair (2021)

A deeply intimate and raw portrait of Selma Blair after she is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and tries to slow the progression of her disease.
  • 8.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2021-10-23 Added:
  • Writer:
  • Rachel Fleit, Director:
  • Mickey Liddell, Troy Nankin, Pete Shilaimon, Producer:

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7 / 10

no easy path

SXSW 2021Greetings again from the darkness. Whether it's navigating the stairs on all fours, getting a boost up to the saddle of her beloved horse, or showing off her glittery turbans and walking canes, the showmanship of actress Selma Blair seems ever-present despite the severe effects of her Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Documentarian Rachel Fleit films the daily challenges faced by Ms. Blair as she comes to grips with the disease and its impact on her career, her life, and her ability to raise her son.

You likely recognize Selma Blair from her most popular movies, CRUEL INTENTIONS (1999) and LEGALLY BLONDE (2001). She admits to viewing herself as a supporting actor, rather than a star, but with 80 screen credits over 25 years, she's certainly worked consistently. But here we see her daily physical and emotional struggles, though her sense of humor is present except for the darkest moments. Cracking wise about Kim Kardashian or Norma Desmond (SUNSET BLVD), and never hesitating to ensure her cane serves the dual purpose of fashion accessory, Ms. Blair keeps us constantly guessing as to whether she is serving up raw emotions or her best performance in the moment.

We can easily forgive her if a bit of her good humor is an act. It seems clear the film is designed to be a "gift" to her young son Arthur, should her life be cut short. Early on, we witness an MS episode when the stimulus gets to be too much. Her physical contortions and impaired speech are difficult to watch, but necessary for us to fully understand the brutality of the disease.

Half of the film is dedicated to her decision to seek stem cell treatment. The process is long and arduous, and we are spared much of the worst that she experiences. Still, it's a weeks-long cycle followed by a two year recovery, with no guarantee of improvement. In fact, no miracle cure or recovery occurs, and Ms. Blair initially seems shocked that she has two years of recovery ahead. It's difficult to believe she had not previously been informed.

Selma Blair's slogan, "We have so much time to be dead", is a terrific message and she's to be commended and respected for opening up her challenges to the camera. It's hopeful that her willingness to do so will help others, while also educating those unfamiliar with this disease. Mommy issues and extra drama aside, this film is quite something to experience.

8 / 10

Had no idea she was diagnosed with MS. :(

This was actually quite heartbreaking to watch. And when the dog jumped off her lap, it was like a rollercoaster that hit a HUGE drop. :OI found Selma to be quite a fighter and so lovely as a person and brave, as she let us see the struggles and darkness of an illness that is trying to steal her life light away from her. I pray she is improving more and more everyday for herself, her son, and all her family, friends and fans.

This is a very difficult thing to share, and a lot of people don't know, understand or even care when others become chronically ill and how from one moment to the next, one hour to the next, one day to the next, you can seem fine or be able to mask your pain from others and other moments you go off the deep end and you can't control anything. This sadly, is when you find out who your real friends are, because its amazing how many people will run from your life once your not able to live it to the fullest, and are being suffocated by pain and fear. I know, I've been there. :(I'm glad to see how many wonderful people were in her support system and that truly love her and are sacrificing themselves and their heart to make this painful journey with her. Those people are literally angels. God Speed in your recovery Selma!

10 / 10

Brave Brave Woman

There are no words I can think of to describe this documentary that would do this justice but I'll try. It was uplifting and emotional and i felt her emotional pain. I cried when she cried and I pray for her every day. She is a wonderful mother and that relationship with her son is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a long time. For me watching this made everything going on in the world now pale in importance compared to what this brave woman is going through. We had a neighbor who died a 11 years ago with MS and he was diagnosed in 1976. He was 77. Our families were very close. Selma is beautiful more beautiful than any other actress. She has Herculean strength.

9 / 10

Beautiful, painful film

As another reviewer here states, I also found this very powerful documentary to be heartbreaking and incredibly moving. I knew Ms. Blair had been diagnosed with MS in 2018 but was unaware she had gone through the process of undergoing a stem cell transplant, and the film chronicles a lot of what that hellish experience is like. Throughout the documentary she very bravely shows us both the physical as well as the mental pain she experiences coping with her illness, and although her courage is certainly commendable, sometimes it's difficult to watch.

What I found most heart-wrenching was Ms. Blair's continual search throughout the film's running time to try to find love from her memories of a mother who apparently wasn't a very loving one; at first I found her sarcastic, self-deprecating sense of humor endearing, but it became more and more painful to watch as the film progressed and I gained a better understanding of what her childhood may have been like. Strangely, the film keeps her mother at a distance, mostly just showing us photographs and brief recollections from Ms. Blair. At one point during the documentary there's a very brief phone conversation shown between the two, and her mother doesn't seem to be completely coherent. No further explanation of it is given, and I wish the filmmaker had given us a more detailed picture of what the woman had been like. She's depiected as quite narcissistic. What is made very clear and is equally poignant is that the love Ms. Blair often implies she didn't receive as a child she gives whole-heartedly to her young son. She's an amazing mother who shows him nothing but completely accepting, unconditional love.

This is a documentary that shows us how life often doesn't make any sense and how cruel it can be sometimes. Ms. Blair is a courageous, very admirable woman and I wish her the very best in her continued recovery. Maybe someday we'll even see her in a role again, something I very much look forward to.

9 / 10

Encouraging, but bummer its needed

As caretaker for my spouse, who has a similar neuro-disease, my hat is off to Selma for the courage to show her vulnerabilities to the world.

There is no other group more discriminated than the disabled. It is much better than even 20 years ago, but social exclusion remains at the top. No other group of individuals has the insecurity of not only being universally judged as different, but also knowing they are different...and there is nothing they can about it.

There are many true advocates, but humanity's majority still see disabled people as broken, having less to offer to the world and worth staring at while sidestepping because you do not know how to interact. But how to break that barrier down?

It is videos and documentaries like this that allows young people to learn earlier that on individuals with disabilities are no less than they are, and in fact may have everything to offer (Stephen Hawking comes to mind).

Sorry if this is lecturing, but reading other review's criticality tweaked a nerve a bit. Regardless whether person is a celebrity or an average everyday human (i.e., Bernadette), they are people just like you and everyone else...no better, no worse. They are having their own human experience just like you. Until there is more understanding and less stares, cajoles, jokes and comments when an individual with a disability walks into the room or rolls by on the sidewalk, these will remain exceedingly necessary.

A perfect world is one where people do not feel a need to make others feel awkward, less than or just different only to boost their own ego or self-esteem. One where we all treat each other with love, even if it is not returned. Love is free to give and so rewarding; whereas anger, judgement and hate come at a cost...and are so exhausting.

For this film, there is no judgement. This is a person who is using her platform to show her struggles, revealing her fears and revealing the raw nerves that most folks do their utmost to keep hidden. How many people are willing expose their embarrassments in a true way? It is rare, and welcome!