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Val Kilmer’s New Movie Reveals the Sad Truth

In the newly released film ‘Val’, actor Val Kilmer whose now in his early 60s reemerges before the world after being out of the spotlight for years. Far from the cool, calm, collected and justifiably cocky star that he once was at the height of his career. Kilmer presents himself as almost as a broken-down shell of who he once was. His face, which was at one point beaming and chiseled, now looks droopy and sullen. With dark eyebrows that give him an eerily almost Nixon-like aesthetic.

Even more disturbing is his manner of speaking. While he once boomed with confidence and gusto, now he speaks in a thin, robotic rasp. The result of a procedure performed on his trachea to treat the throat cancer that he diagnosed with back in 2015.

Kilmer managed to beat cancer but he left with that scratchy, alien-like voice-box, which takes a little getting used to. But once you manage to get past it, it becomes abundantly clear that he is very much so the same person that we all known and love – albeit a bit older, wiser and solemn these days. Join Facts Verse to learn more about the Val Kilmer’s New Movie Reveals the Sad Truth.

‘Val’ Gives Audiences An Inside Look On A Stars Fall From Grace

Through Kilmer’s narration, viewers get a first-hand account of the actor’s journey. From making amateur 16mm home movies with his brother when they were children to starring in iconic hit films likes Top Gun, Batman Forever, and The Doors,’ Val’ gives audiences a revealingly candid look into the actor’s behind-the-scenes personal life between films. The film spans four decades drawing from thousands of hours of footage.

In the documentary, Kilmer also opens up about his cancer diagnosis and admits that he is still recovering from its repercussions even though he’s currently in remission. It’s difficult for him to speak. But he has a story that is worth telling regardless of how tricky it might be to do so.

Kilmer used to talk quite fast. That part of his whole shtick as can seen in films like ‘Real Genius’. But everything about him these days is slower and it takes a significant amount of effort for him to speak at all. As such, he’s no longer someone that can afford to mince his words.

‘Val’ is directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo. The film is a portrait of Kilmer as an actor and celebrity but most importantly, as a human being.

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And don’t go anywhere just yet. Stick around to see how Val Kilmer fell out of the public’s good graces and eventually began to resent stardom. Some of his downfall a result of his own choices. But he also someone that handed a pretty miserable hand by fate. How he chose to play those cards that he dealt, however, might surprise you.

Kilmer Self-Documented Much Of His Life Story

Kilmer is a man that was ahead of his time. Long before the days of social media and the world’s current obsession with self-recording. Val kept a video camera constantly rolling at home, on movie sets, and wherever else he went.

The film opens with a clip of him clowning around with Rick Rossovich during the filming of Top Gun. And there’s this particularly humorous segment in which John Frankenheimer, director of ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ orders Kilmer to stop his video recording. Kilmer then promises to do so only if Frankenheimer vows not to leave the film.

Kilmer got the reputation of being a ‘difficult actor’ to work with and we see a little bit why he earned this distinction in the film. But it wasn’t because he was some kind of entitled prima donna. Rather, he cared deeply about his work – perhaps a little too much at times. But, being difficult was just the price he made everyone pay for forcing him to take part in a system that he found very little satisfaction in.

Looking at Val Kilmer today, it might be pretty tempting to label him as a man who lost pretty everything. His voice, his looks, his career, his family. Kilmer’s ugly divorce from British actress Joanne Whalley in 1996 clearly hurt him deeply.

His aging, almost unrecognizable appearance may even at times remind you of Mickey Rourke’s in ‘The Wrestler’. At one point in the film, we find Kilmer at home with a bunch of items sprawled across the floor. There in the middle of that sea of chaos is a worn copy of Entertainment Weekly featuring him on the cover as Batman. As we soon find out, playing the billionaire crime-fighter was not necessarily a glowing experience for him which explains why he walked away from the role after just one film. So that begs the question, why on earth would he even still hold on to that magazine?

At another point in the film, we find Kilmer at Comic-Con signing autographs on Top Gun posters. A scene that is again vaguely reminiscent of The Wrestler although in this case it just might even be a bit sadder.

Kilmer Knew Himself Better Than Anyone Else

While you might be tempted to knee-jerk mark it as yet another over-glorified film about a washed-up movie star who becomes some kind of dilapidated parody of themself. But what makes Val a decent, heart-tugging movie, however, is that Kilmer brings the film an incredible sense of self-awareness. He’s had so much tragedy in his life story going all the way back to when he’s a teenager and one of his brothers died in a Jacuzzi after suffering an epileptic seizure.

Kilmer says that that horrible experience left him feeling ‘raw with grief’. But in the film, what Kilmer presents to us is a sort of dramatized version of what so many stars go through. Celebrities tend to have a defining moment in their lives where they are on top of the world. Often followed by a fall from grace experience where they no longer shine quite as brightly as they once did. They might still be famous, but they finally come down to our level and admit their humanity. For Kilmer, the ups and downs of his career hit us particularly distinctly because his fall from the top was in part his own doing.

Kilmer was a serious actor who attended Juilliard and rose to fame during the 1980s. In 1983 he appeared in the Broadway production. The Slab Boys, alongside actors Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon who called dibs on the more prestigious roles thus pushing him into a third-tier role. His subsequent casting in ‘Top Gun’ elevated his career substantially. And transformed him into one of the most sought-after players in the industry.

Did he want the fame that he received? Well, yes and no. He wanted something more than what he became. He desired to recognized as the inspired actor that he was but more than anything, he wanted to make great films. That was a difficult balancing act for any actor who came up in the 80s.

‘Val’ Offers An Unparalleled Look Into Kilmer’s Mind

In ‘Val’, Kilmer takes us all on a previously unexplored journey through his career. Each movie that he took part in becomes a lens through which we get to dissect his ever-changing blend of ego and idealism. He chased after movie roles with tenacity, producing his own audition tapes for films like ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and ‘Goodfellas’. Yet despite his ambition and dedicated focus, he had this uncanny way of blowing opportunities that came his way. At times, he picked the wrong projects. As was the case when he signed on to star in the critically scorned film ‘Willow’. On other occasions, his misguided cautiousness led him to talk himself out of projects that he probably should have done.

Kilmer knew that ‘The Doors’ was something special. In fact, he spent months wearing leather pants and ceaselessly studying Jim Morrison’s moves before shooting commenced. But even in that case, his almost neurotic fixation with his subject got to be a bit much. He even indicates at one point in the film that it was in a large way the catalyst that led to the destruction of his marriage.

In 1995, he donned the Batsuit for ‘Batman Forever. But as it turned out, it was that costume that Kilmer hated the most about participating in the film. He couldn’t move in the thing, never could hear his fellow actors. And felt like some kind of puppet most of the time. That kind of talk makes him sound like an artist until you realize what movies Kilmer said yes to instead like ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ or ‘The Saint’.

He slowly started to reject fame, or at least he stopped trying to cultivate it. But part of his downfall was the fact that he never learned the vital lesson that actors like Tom Cruise understood. That cultivating stardom is exactly the way that you get to do the good films. If you reject stardom, it just might reject you right back.

‘Val’ Touches On The Most Important Chapters Of Kilmer’s Journey

Kilmer is grateful for the fact that he is still close to his children and lives next door to his daughter. Family is very clearly one of the most important things in his life.

‘Val’ focuses heavily on his life-long fascination with Mark Twain. Who he enjoyed the opportunity of playing in several projects throughout his career, but the film has very little to say about his connection to the fringe religion ‘Christian Science’ that he grew up with.

For the majority of the four-plus decades covered in ‘Val’, Kilmers comes across as a man of obsession. Someone who could be either his own worst enemy or his own savior depending on the situation. At the height of his career, there’s something very entitled about his personality. But these days, he has this aura of an individual who was dealt his just desserts and lived to tell the tale. He may have fallen from stardom and the public’s favor, but he did so in his own unique way. He’s still here, suggesting that perhaps grace is something that you can rediscover with enough hard work and perseverance.

‘Val’ had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on July 7, 2021. It is scheduled to debut in theaters in a limited release on July 23, 2021. You can catch it on Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service on August 6, 2021.

Anyway, now’s your turn to let your voice heard. In the comments section below, let us know which one of Val Kilmer’s films was your favorite, Top Gun or The Doors?

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