Documentaries: Coming to My Senses ​(2017) - Reviewed

Coming to My Senses
is an inspirational/motivational documentary about Aaron Baker, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a motocross accident but refused to accept that he would never be capable of doing things for himself again. The movie chronicles his life from the injury through his long and difficult physical therapy all the way to Aaron testing his body during a twenty mile walk in the desert. Its structure is a little awkward, causing it to feel repetitive at times but, overall, it is an uplifting story with a likable subject. ​

Aaron Baker is a funny, friendly, guy with an outgoing personality. He comes off as very candid, though he and the filmmakers clearly have a motive for making this documentary. Doctors told Aaron he would be paralyzed for the rest of his life. He was determined to prove them wrong. He is using this film as an opportunity to provide the same hope he was able to summon for himself to others in a similar situation. Thankfully, Coming to My Senses never becomes preachy. It is focused on Aaron and those closest to him and makes its point through their story.

The Baker family appear to be completely honest as they re-count the struggles they faced during his long road to recovery. The filmmakers also benefit from the home videos the Baker’s took before and after Aaron’s injury. It gives more impact to their anecdotes as it shows what kind of person he was and how hard he fought to be that again. There is a small amount of reenactment mixed in with the archival footage, but not in a way that dilutes the power of their words or that of the original images.

​The largest barrier holding Coming to My Senses back is its structure. The story is told in such a way that it was difficult for me to figure out when events occurred in relation to each other. A lot of information is given early on but, later, there is little explanation of why certain decisions were made. Additionally, because they tell us everything at the beginning, far too much time is spent repeating the same exact things using slightly different approaches. It makes the film feel padded. At the end, when it is supposed to be building to a big emotional climax, it is actually just treading well-worn ground. At that point, there was nothing that had not already been covered. The way the material is related stops it from being as powerful as it could have been.

​It is nice to see an inspirational film that is able to avoid deifying its protagonist. Aaron Baker’s appeal is that he is a regular guy with strong willpower and a high level of determination. The movie makes good use of him, his mom and all the video they took of him over the years. Though the style of Coming to My Senses prevents it from becoming truly memorable, the fact that it gives Aaron the chance to tell his tale and deliver his message ends up being enough.

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-Ben Pivoz