The documentary “Your Friend, Memphis” is one of joy, hope, and sadness. Director David Zucker follows his subject Memphis DiAngelis, a young man with cerebral palsy, over the course of five years. It’s a highly personal project that captures the ups and downs of his personal growth.
Memphis isn’t a notable figure. He hasn’t achieved feats of greatness, and he isn’t a famous household name. What makes Memphis such a compelling subject is his normalcy. He’s an ordinary guy who dreams big and is determined to life of independence. He doesn’t let his disorder get in the way or get him down, most of the time.
Memphis has always lived an active life. He’s worked as an Uber driver, a movie actor, and a SXSW film festival volunteer. His personal relationships are the source of great happiness and also great pain. He pines for Seneca, his sweet and caring best friend who is unsure of what to make of an unrequited love. He sometimes butts heads with his parents, who gently remind him of the realities of the world when it comes to people with disabilities.
Zucker lets his camera observe, often capturing a contagious joy of life and living. Every day, week, month, and year in Memphis’ life gives an intimate portrait of someone who feels like a best friend by our side, and we are simply along for the bumpy (and often joy-filled) ride. As Memphis grows older, his optimism sinks a little as he realizes that his life may not pan out in all the ways he desires. Somehow, his upbeat positivity never burns out.
“Your Friend, Memphis” isn’t the type of movie that can change the world, but it’s a gentle glimpse into the life of one young man who still believes that he can.