Coming to My Senses (2017)

After breaking his neck in a motorcycle accident, Aaron Baker is left paralyzed. As he’s been told he’ll never walk again, he searches for reasons to live and ways to prove the doctors wrong.

Directed by Dominic Gill with writing by Nadia Gill, Coming to My Senses follows Aaron Baker from the accident to his endeavor to walk across Death Valley, the film does this by showing home videos, archive footage, and interviews, interspersed with following Baker through his current life and struggles. This leads to a documentary that is fairly well-rounded while keeping things centered on its subject and his opinions. This documentary is not one of those that is trying to educate on a cause per sey or even to sway people. It’s clearly made to show how one man took incredible odds and turned them in his favor, giving a bit of an inspirational tone to things while avoiding the usual pitfalls of overly schmaltzy or religion-as-a-savior that a lot of inspirational stories of triumph against all odds often have. The film is built in a way where the story speaks for itself and the focus stays squarely on its star Aaron Baker.

The way Aaron Baker is portrayed here is as a regular dude who didn’t give up. His strengths and his flaws, his happy moments and his low ones are shown honestly, making Baker human and easy to care for as a viewer. His personality and changing mood prove interesting to watch and how he doesn’t give up, even though he has his moments of doubt, this also makes him a strong leader or lead for the film. Also shown here are his parents, his sister, his girlfriend, and his trainer. These people are not perfect and their bad moment or different opinions are not cut or glossed over. The difficulty of the situation is well-shown through their interviews and their, smaller in scale, stories. These are important here as they paint a broader, more interesting picture.

Director Dominic Gill also serves as cinematographer, creating the images that show Baker and his struggles and victories clearly. The style used here is head on but not in your face, a balance that is important to getting the film to work, to feel personal, and to pull the viewer in. The editing of the images is by Nick Andert with Gill working on that as well. The documentary is edited in a way that keeps the attention and gives unity to all the differently sourced materials, the flow of all these gives the film a good pace.

Coming to My Senses is an inspiring, low key documentary about a man who doesn’t give up even after having been through the worst of times. His ways and how he works through all the roadblocks are relatable and make the film one that is easy to watch. It also serves as a good reminder that life is what you make of it and that powering through tough times can be the only option at times.