“When I Walk” is Jason DaSilva’s video-diary portrait of his own struggles with multiple sclerosis, which struck without warning when he was 25 and has drastically reduced his physical abilities since. A likable, intimate documentary kept from being too grim by the leads’ good-humored personalities, the pic will be most at home as a quality broadcast item.DaSilva had already waded into a promising career as a globe-trotting documentarian — his first professional short accepted into Sundance, a first feature already under his belt — when, late in 2006, he abruptly lost control of his legs during a family vacation (a moment that was duly captured oncamera). Diagnosed with MS, he commenced a battery of tests and attempted treatments and cures (including a trip to Lourdes) as his motor skills rapidly deteriorated — first requiring him to use a cane, then a walker, then a motorized wheelchair. Despite worries that his dating life is over, he falls in love with Alice Cook (credited here as his co-producer/writer/editor), a fellow Manhattanite whose mother is also afflicted with MS. They get married, though it’s not easy; as DaSilva’s vision and use of his hands degenerate, Cook becomes as much caretaker as wife, making the prospect of raising children challenging. The pic is a bit clunky at times in its structure of blackout-separated chapters, and its subjects aren’t the most articulate folks, but it’s all kept relatable by their almost unshakably upbeat attitudes. (Providing recurrent comedy relief is DaSilva’s no-nonsense mother, who constantly drops bombshells of well-meaning pessimism like, “Things are tough in life! Get real!”) Simple animation segments enliven the brisk if sometimes technically basic assembly.
An AXS and ITVS production in association with CAAM. (International sales: David Magdael & Associates, Los Angeles.) Produced by Jason DaSilva, Alice Cook. Executive producers, Stanley Nelson, Yael Melamede, Lydia Dean-Pitcher. Directed by Jason DaSilva. Written by DaSilva, Alice Cook.
Camera (color, HD), Cook, Leigh Dasilva, Karin Hayes, Marianne D'Souza, Shamsul Islam, Shilpi Gupta, Hasan Shabbhaz, Sean Waters, Danita Chow, Bo Myers, Victor Ballesteros, Kevin Greisch, Magda Lapinska, Lexi Henigman, Stephen Duffy, Yousuke Kiname, Lesly Pierre, Rick Lucertini, Betsy Cook, Molleo Shiguro; editors, DaSilva, Cook; music, Jeff Beal; music supervisors, Stephen Duffy, Davey Berks; art director, Mihai Wilson; sound, Cook, Dasilva, Hayes, D'Souza, Islam, Gupta, Shabbhaz, Waters, Chow, Myers, Ballesteros, Greisch, Lapinska, Henigman, Duffy, Kiname, Pierre, Lucertini, Cook, Shiguro; sound designer, Tom Paul. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Documentary Premieres), Jan. 25, 2013. Running time: 84 MIN.
Jason DaSilva, Alice Cook, Marianne D'Souza.