I Am: Celine Dion

I Am: Celine Dion Review: Her Voice Will Go On

“If I can’t walk, I’ll crawl, but I won’t stop” - Celine Dion

In the wake of a rare medical diagnosis, Celine Dion welcomed cameras into her Las Vegas home when she was at her most vulnerable. Emotionally stripped bare, Dion introduces a rarely seen side of herself outside of the spotlight in filmmaker Irene Taylor’s intimate portrait, I Am: Celine Dion, which will appeal to viewers whether you are a fan of her or not.

After three decades-long worldwide success, the powerhouse Canadian vocalist announced in 2022 that her once incredible voice had betrayed her. She revealed that she was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome, a rare neurological disease that causes her muscles to seize up, and causes immense pain, and for Dion, an inability to reach the three-octave range she once could. With tears in her eyes, the singer demonstrates how the illness manifests. She explains that it is not her lungs but the rigidity of the chest wall muscles that keep her voice at bay.

Dion is raw and unfiltered as Oscar-nominated director Taylor documents her rehabilitation attempts and the realization that she may never again command the stage. Painted in broad strokes, I Am: Celine Dion is less a definitive look at the singer’s rise to fame and more of what her life is now. She is a frail woman, trapped in the gilded cage of her Las Vegas residence with her twin sons, unable to leave the house both due to her physical condition and her perceived one. For Dion, the fans are still at the forefront as she muses how someone would react to seeing the singer enjoying family time when they held a ticket to her now-cancelled series of performances.

“The lie is too heavy now,” she muses about going public with her diagnosis. Dion says she used Valium and other drugs to help her function at first, blaming vocal hiccups on tech issues or getting the crowd to singalong when she couldn’t hit the notes. But soon, it became too much to hide.

Intercut with home video and archival moments from her storied career, I Am reveals Dion’s life now amid pill bottles and painful seizures. Dion’s medical condition may be shocking to some as the singer allows cameras access while in the throes of her illness, crippled, unable to move and carried off on a stretcher. It’s a sharp contrast to the warehouse of glamorous costumes and stage-commanding presence of the singer at her peak. Dion guides the documentary crew through her warehouse – almost a museum dedicated to herself – musing about her intricate sequin stage costumes, the designer red carpet looks, and the family mementos that have been diligently archived and stored away in a testament to who she once was.

At her heart, Dion was and remains the young Quebecois girl from a big family desperate to sing. Now, she leans on that desire once more to drive her forward in recovery. “If I can’t walk, I’ll crawl, but I won’t stop,” she says of her hope to one day be able to sing again. You just can’t help but root for her.

I Am: Celine Dion is now streaming on Prime Video Canada.