Published Apr 30, 2013When Just as I Remember director Andrew Moir was four-years-old, his father discovered he had ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or, to some, Lou Gehrig's disease). Still ensuring that his children experienced the best that childhood had to offer, he masked his symptoms and presumably intense internal struggle, leaving Andrew to wonder, is his adulthood, what his father actually went through during the early stages of the disease.
Instead of interviewing family members and unveiling a litany of speculation and sob stories, Moir infuses his own exploration and sparse, touching voiceover with the secondary narrative of Brad, a father of three that similarly suffers from the affliction.
In following Brad through his quotidian experience, keeping on a brave face for his children, we are able to share in Moir's struggle to understand what it must have been like for his father. Brad similarly lives for his children, staying strong in the face of adversity, but reveals darker, more complex, thoughts when interviewed on his own, describing his rationale behind making tough decisions for the future.
These moments, along with one where Brad's wife suggests to Andrew that it might be time to stop the documentary experiment, are tough to swallow and are unlikely to leave many with dry eyes. It takes a very mature filmmaker to make a personal struggle accessible to others and to open up his experiences in a way that suggests our shared pain is another way to connect.
At just 17-minutes, Just as I Remember packs an impressive punch and does exactly what it intends, which is something directors twice Moir's age have difficulty in achieving. (Independent)