Movie Review: I Am Heath Ledger - an interesting tale missing Michelle Williams' input

Spike

A new documentary explores the life of Heath Ledger using never-before-seen home videos shot by the actor himself, offering an intimate portrait nine years after his death.

I Am Heath Ledger (M, 92 mins) Directed by Adrian Buitenhuis, Derik Murray ★★★★ 

Like the recent documentaries on Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain, this aims to tell the tale of a troubled life through the artist's own words and that of their nearest and dearest.

Australian-born actor Heath Ledger was a rising Hollywood star who was arguably in his best form when he died in early 2008, aged just 28.

Directors Adrian Buitenhuis and Derik Murray (who have previously dissected the lives of everyone from Anne Murray to Suge Knight, Evel Knievel and Pablo Escobar) don't dwell on the whys and hows of that tragedy, preferring to focus on how Ledger took himself from suburban Perth to the bright lights of the silver screen.

I Am Heath Ledger reveals how the Aussie star was initially concerned by the more anachronistic elements of A Knight's Tale.

I Am Heath Ledger reveals how the Aussie star was initially concerned by the more anachronistic elements of A Knight's Tale.

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Interviews with his family, school friends and fellow Aussie actors like Ben Mendelsohn and Naomi Watts are interspersed with  Ledger's own footage, clips from his movies and behind-the-scenes footage.

They all paint a portrait of a young man who aimed to live every moment to the fullest, but who didn't always have confidence in his own abilities.

Heath Ledger won an Oscar for playing The Joker in The Dark Knight.

Heath Ledger won an Oscar for playing The Joker in The Dark Knight.

"He kind of almost pulled out of every movie," agent Steve Alexander admits.

The film reveals how he had concerns about the more anachronistic elements of A Knight's Tale, turned down the opportunity to play Peter Parker and opened up his home to many fellow Australasian actors trying to make it in LA – including our own Martin Henderson.

But while insights from the likes of Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee are fascinating ("I was convinced that he would steal the movie"), the absence of input from the likes of ex-partner Michelle Williams does leave a bit of a hole. Which is exactly what the final movie clip montage reflects with regards to Ledger himself – a charismatic talent taken from us far too soon.

I Am Heath Ledger opens in select New Zealand cinemas from June 22.

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