Movie Review: ME TO PLAY (Slamdance Film Festival)
For actors, the very notion of a final performance fills them with dread. Riding off into the sunset is not easy and the adulation of interacting with an audience is something that is direly missed.
This is especially true for Dan Moran and Chris Jones, two veterans of films and stage whose careers have been cut short by Parkinson’s disease. Screening virtually as part of the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival, Jim Bernfield’s new documentary centers on the two New York actors who pour their hearts into Off-Broadway production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, a play that ironically suggests “there’s nothing funnier than unhappiness.”
Cut from the same cloth, Moran, a veteran of five Woody Allen films, and Jones, who has been seen in films like Moonstruck, The Village and Awakenings, both find themselves suddenly unable to do the thing they love. The struggle of how the men and their families deal with this tragedy forms the core of a powerful documentary on the craft of acting, the emotional value of art, and the importance of human perseverance.
For Moran and Jones, the significance of performing Beckett’s comedic, one-act play symbolizes their battle with Parkinson’s. The play’s examination of beginnings and endings also serves as a metaphor for the struggles each faces in their final production.
Seen through the lens of a pandemic, Bernfield’s film is a poignant reminder of the power of the human spirit as both men overcome adversity to give the performance of their lives. Revealing and transformative, Me to Play is a film about actors and acting as well as a vivid illustration of the physical and mental cruelty of Parkinson’s.
The 2021 Slamdance Film Festival run virtually through February 25th. For passes and more information visit www.slamdance.com.