By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Since 1984, Val Kilmer made a name for himself in Hollywood as one of America’s more talented actors. Through the years, he earned much respect and admiration from movie audiences, critics, and some filmmakers. Throughout his career, he also developed a bad reputation as a difficult and troublesome artist. A new documentary recounts Kilmer’s acting career, while also revealing his more recent personal struggles with throat cancer. In Val, audiences get a very personal look at the artist, his life, and his continuing journey, as he attempts to deal with the recent limitations that come with his health problems..

Through most of his life and career, Kilmer enjoyed documenting and capturing his more candid experiences via video cameras. As children, Val and his brothers enjoyed making home movies and videos where they could express their passion and enthusiasm for art and entertainment. Kilmer would continue this tradition as he fervently recorded many milestones and highlights from his life, along with some behind the scenes moments on the sets of his movies. This moving and compelling documentary utilizes a lot of this footage while Kilmer tells his life story through both narration and the clips he has chosen to share with the world.

Directors Leo Scott and Ting Poo have done a fantastic job of putting together what is esssentially a video diary of Val Kilmer’s life and career. Now granted, the film does have a particular bias, as it presents Kilmer’s story through his own words and the moments of his life that he probably approved to show. Nevertheless, the film offers a remarkable portrait of an artist who lived and worked on his own terms and reflects the personality of a sensitive and passionate man. Kilmer, who wrote the film and its narration, courageously bares his recent struggles with his health and the continuing pain he feels in facing his inevitable mortality.

One does not have to necessarily be a fan of the actor, or someone familiar with Val Kilmer’s career to appreciate or be moved by this film. In fact, the documentary reminds film enthusiasts that actors, filmmakers, and artists of any kind are still human, mortal and often face the same kinds of weaknesses or obstacles that any person can. Val opens in some theaters on July 23, 2021 and will be available for streaming via Amazon Prime on August 6, 2021.

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