Selma Blair has been on a challenging and painful path since 2018, dealing with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that impacts the brain and spinal cord. In the documentary Introducing, Selma Blair, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, Blair talks about her day-to-day struggles with MS. The director Rachel Fleit paints a chaotic, loving, and candid portrait of the actress as she deals with a global health issue. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, women are more affected by MS than men are. The big question that is continually asked throughout the documentary: Could she die from this?
The doc will be streaming on Discovery+ later this year is a remarkably moving story of a woman forced to rethink everything that she knows about herself in the face of a chronic illness that leaves her unable to speak, write, or control how her body moves at times. In the doc, Blair can be seen having trouble with her trash, continuously dropping things, and her crawling up the stairs to get to her bedroom. Fleit does an excellent job of getting everything, all candid moments from Blair, whether she is crying uncontrollably or laughing and having fun with her son. Every moment was so crucial to her story that without it, it wouldn’t have made the impact that it did.
Beyond the personal environment, the intimacy that brings viewers closer to Blair, Fleit does it so well that I didn’t even notice right away was how the direction of the film gently goes into the complication that is MS. In a usual documentary-type movie, there are always people close to the person or subject the movie is about and what Fleit does is she takes some of those people out, which then gives it a more intimate feeling. In the first part of the film, I am walked through Blair’s life and how she discovered her chronic illness, and by the end of the first part of the movie, it takes me to Blair’s upcoming stem cell transplant. She is optimistic that she will be miraculously healed from the transplant. The direction of the movie at first started well, and I felt sympathy right away for Blair. Still, as the film got closer to her getting her transplant, it begins to feel a little bit messy and a little bit unfinished, like I thought that there was more, but I never got the more that I was looking for as the movie went on. Although I was hoping for more, I found that it gave the movie realism like not everything can be wrapped up nicely with a red bow on top. It’s not reality, and Fleit caught onto that, and it made fun and sad to watch at times.
Blair is, to say the least, is very transparent in the doc, and when describing her chronic illness, it was so well explained that I didn’t need to do my research on the subject of MS. In many ways, it’s changed how she views herself, particularly when it comes to the guilt she feels for the symptoms that she can’t control. Given the sometimes-isolating implications of disability, it would have been more beneficial to learn more about Blair’s social circle of friends after departing from the public eye. It is a little bit frustrating to me when I can’t get access to her friends and how they cope with Blair’s illness. It is also interesting how it is never mentioned how somewhat controversial the transplant is even though it is barely hinted at by Blair that it is far from accepted treatment. Blair is basically in uncharted waters with this procedure, but it doesn’t stop her from getting the treatment she feels will make her better.
I can tell Fleit is working hard to give answers to the treatment, but it only brings up even more questions and little to no answers. Still, she does succeed in getting viewers like myself closer to Blair, and I felt that was more important than answers that probably no one has the answer to yet. It felt like I knew Blair personally, and her fun nature makes for an entertaining documentary despite the struggles and the heartache that she is going through.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars
I’ve always been a fan of Selma Blair but now even more so after watching her documentary Introducing, Selma Blair shows a strong woman who is fighting for her life, and despite everything going on around her, she can still smile and laugh. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of her or not; this movie is still worth a watch because seeing her fight against the body that is turning against her is empowering to watch, and honestly, it gave me goosebumps that were on my arm the entire time.