Jason DaSilva was vacationing on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten in 2006 when he fell down on the beach and could not get up. The 25-year-old filmmaker was diagnosed with primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis, an incurable inflammatory disease eventually leading to blindness, as well as a loss of balance and muscle control.
Nevertheless, his hopeful mother refused to let her son feel sorry for himself, encouraging him to seek help and to employ positive affirmations like, “It’s mind over matter,” and “You’ll find a way.” Unfortunately, by 2008, Jason’s health deteriorated to the point where he had become dependent on a walker to get around.
Feeling the frustration of his body slowing down while his mind raced, he decided to make a video record of his day-to-day life during the inexorable decline. The fruit of that effort is “When I Walk,” an alternately heartbreaking and uplifting tale highlighting the indomitability of the human spirit.
For, in spite of DaSilva’s desperate attempt to alleviate his affliction through prayer, yoga, ayurvedic medicine and trans-meditation, he continued to be betrayed by a deteriorating immune system. Thanks to his ever-present camera, he is able to afford the audience an intimate look at his brave battle against MS.
Shot mostly in the director’s adopted hometown of New York City, the movie is actually much more than a mere chronicle of the subject’s health concerns, as it also devotes considerable attention to his romantic relationship. Jason is suddenly in a rush to start a family, but the object of his affection, Alice, has reasonable reservations about marriage.
After all, bringing a baby into the world with a husband with such a dire prognosis might ultimately mean raising a child while simultaneously caring for a virtual invalid. So, she consults her dad, who just happens to be dating a woman with MS, for a little fatherly advice.
Will Alice and Jason tie the knot, when his legs fail entirely and his walker has to be replaced by a scooter? Rather than spoil this bittersweet biopic’s surprising resolution, just let me say Hollywood execs would probably dismiss this sentimental tearjerker as farfetched if pitched as a piece of romance fiction.
An unblinking look at a life and love irreversibly altered by the onset of MS.