I Am Paul Walker

I AM PAUL WALKER, US, 2018. Directed by Adrian Buitenhuis. 90 minutes. Rated M (Coarse Language)

According to all the talking heads in this documentary about actor, Paul Walker, who died tragically in a car crash and a consequent inferno in 2013, Paul Walker was a nice guy. His family certainly agree. Friends definitely agree. And this is endorsed by co-stars in his films.

Paul Walker was born in 1968. As a child he had some roles in television commercials and television series. He had a younger sister, Ashley. And a little brother, Cody, to whom he was devoted, 15 years younger than he was. Both Ashley and Cody contribute their praise to this film. Both his mother and father speak highly of him.

Writer-director Adrian Buitenhuis has previously made I Am Heath Ledger, using a process of offering biography, home movie clips, selections from films, testimony of those who knew the subject. It serves as an effective formula for this kind of cinema portrait – and so it is here.

Paul Walker was an outgoing person, very friendly, and definitely a man of action. In fact, the film suggests that he would have preferred to be involved in these outgoing activities, surfing, driving, and in later years, contributing to shark tagging. Plenty of clips to back this up.

There is information that a lot of this activity is rather hereditary – military serving grandfather, a father who served in Vietnam.

But, what about the film career? He had the opportunity to be cast in some dramas in the late 90s, Pleasantville, a jock in Varsity Blues, The Skulls – directed by Rob Cohen who became friends with him and auditioned him for the first Fast and furious film. And probably that is what Paul Walker is best known for, the range of Fast and Furious features where he plays an undercover cop exposing rackets in illegal races. As the series went on – and he is not in all of them – the films became bigger, more spectacular, even a touch of the bloated! But, this was the kind of film that the fans wanted, demanded, received.

The film offers a lot of speculation, including interviews with the star himself, about whether he wanted to continue as a film star or wanted to move back into the blend of relaxation and sport and social action. His daughter was born when he was rather young, grew up with her mother in Hawaii. At 15, she opted to live with her father and he was devoted to her.

This biography is for a niche audience, those who are interested in the life of film stars, their background and their career. Paul Walker was a star more than an actor and so his biography is that of a phenomenon, a celebrity, rather than a study.

(For those who are interested in the psychology of Carl Jung and his Personality Types, especially as applied in the work of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers, The Myers Brings Type Indicator, from this film, it would emerge that Paul Walker would identify with ESTP, this documentary providing a case study.)

Backlot films                                Released September 13th

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