Sundance movie review: Touching Christopher Reeve doc reveals private struggles

Christopher Reeve is the subject of a new documentary. File Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI
1 of 5 | Christopher Reeve is the subject of a new documentary. File Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI | License Photo

PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Almost 20 years after his death, Christopher Reeve remains a beloved, inspiring figure. Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story, which screened Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival, is an emotional, informative documentary about his life.

The film bounces back and forth between the aftermath of Reeve's 1995 accident, which left him paralyzed, and his acting career prior to that.


Reeve's theater friend Jeff Daniels was there when Reeve told his costars backstage he was auditioning for Superman. The doc makes it clear how seriously Reeve treated the project, even when some of his A-list costars did not.

The production was also where he met Gae Exton, the mother of his first two children, though they never married. Reeve was in the lunch line with everyone else because he was humble.

Reeve's accident and disability advocacy is also covered, as it was well publicized in the '90s. Where Super/Man offers a new perspective is sharing the Reeve family's private moments and feelings.

The family supplied directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui home movies from before and after the accident. Reeve's sons Matt and Will and daughter Alexandra also share details of caring for him from 1995 - 2004.


Christopher wrote about his own perspective in his autobiography Still Me, and portions of the audiobook read by Christopher are included. That was also 1999 and day to day for the rest of his life there were daily incremental challenges, both improvements and setbacks.

Even showing Christopher in rehab is more personal than a book or news story could get. It took time for Christopher to open up to other patients but when he did he found his calling as an advocate.

The film only touches on his non-Superman films briefly. As good as many were they were not hits.

The film addresses some of the controversy surrounding the Reeves' disability advocacy which may not be as well known outside disability communities. Some saw Christopher's focus on a cure for spinal injuries as considering living with paralysis less than.

Reeve's wife, Dana, whom he married in 1992, was instrumental in bringing balance to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Christopher still focused on a cure but Dana emphasized resources for care of current patients.

For fans of Christopher Reeve, the private footage and testimonials from family, celebrity friends, disability advocates and doctors deepen one's view of the man. For Reeve neophytes, Super/Man captures all the reasons he was loved.


Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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