Celine Dion Documentary A Vulnerable And Moving Testament To Resiliency

Celine Dion Documentary A Vulnerable And Moving Testament To Resiliency
Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios

By Michele Yeo

“I think we did create some magic.”

In I Am: Celine Dion, the superstar songstress reflects on her extraordinary life and career and exposes us to her new reality as she battles Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS), a rare neurological disorder that affects roughly only one in a million people.

Viewers are invited into Celine’s palatial Las Vegas home, a place to which she’s largely been confined since her diagnosis, a diagnosis she made public in an emotional post on her Instagram page in December 2022 where she revealed the symptoms of SPS would make it impossible to continue with touring or launching another planned residency.

While her diagnosis may be relatively new, we learn Celine’s symptoms started surfacing 17 years ago in the form of voice spasms, losing her balance, and various forms of pain. As the symptoms intensified over the years and Celine found herself having to sporadically cancel shows, she and her team would make excuses like sinus infections or ear infections until Celine made the difficult decision to come clean. “I don’t want to lie anymore,” she says in the doc. “The lie is too heavy now.”

Celine Dion Documentary A Vulnerable And Moving Testament To Resiliency
Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios

“As you know, I’ve always been an open book,” we see Celine announce to the camera in a behind-the-scenes look at the recording of that headline-generating Instagram post. “I wasn’t ready to say anything before. But I’m ready now.”

In I Am: Celine Dion we learn the singer has experienced spasms so severe she’s broken ribs, had difficulty walking, and even swallowing. But it’s the damage to her vocal chords that has been the toughest pill for her to swallow. Celine, who refers to her voice as “the conductor of my life” and her “instrument” soon found singing, something that has always come so naturally to her, nearly impossible. “I need my instrument,” she explains in the film, “and my instrument wasn’t working so we elevated the medication.” Celine reveals at one point she was taking 80-90 mg of Valium a day. “I don’t want to sound dramatic,” she says, “but I could have died.”

The documentary is an unflinching portrayal of a global superstar fighting for her health, her life (in one particularly difficult scene we see Celine in a full seizure) and her identity, an identity that has, since she was a child, been so closely associated with being able to sing and entertain. “I have to admit, it’s been a struggle,” she says. It’s when talking about not being able to perform anymore where Celine gets the most emotional in the doc. “It’s not hard to do a show,” she explains. “It’s hard to cancel a show.”

Celine Dion Documentary A Vulnerable And Moving Testament To Resiliency
ABOVE: Celine Dion on the red carpet at the I Am: Celine Dion screening in New York City (Courtesy of Dave Allocca/Amazon MGM Studios)

“Music, I miss it a lot,” she reveals, “but also, the people. I miss them,” she says tearfully. Celine considers the documentary a “love letter” to her fans, fans she misses desperately and longs for when she’ll be able to entertain again. Working diligently with her neurologist and sports medicine doctor has helped Celine replace much of her fear with hope. “If I can’t run, I’ll walk. If I can’t walk, I’ll crawl but I won’t stop,” she says. It’s that optimism and resiliency that keep the doc from being completely maudlin. That and Celine’s trademark zaniness which Stiff Person Syndrome hasn’t extinguished and there are glimpses of it throughout the film. If Celine wants her fans to know anything it’s that she’s still the Celine Dion they know and love and not to count her out just yet. “I always come up with a plan B and C,” she says.

I Am: Celine Dion is available for streaming on Prime Video beginning June 25th.

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Tags: Amazon Prime Video, Celine Dion, top story, topstory

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