Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Movie Reviewed - We Are Marshall

So if you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for grief. It's kind of my favorite thing when I'm watching movies or TV. It's not to say that I enjoy seeing other people in pain, of course. It's more that, in movies, I think we all look for opportunities to connect with the characters. And grieving folks are the kind of folks I can connect with.

So, naturally, a movie about an entire town that grieves is something that I'd expect to be able to appreciate plenty. We Are Marshall follows the surviving players and coaches of Marshall University and how they endured through the tragic loss of most of their colleagues, teammates, and friends in a horrific plane crash. Just as much, it's about the town of Huntington, and how it was devastated by the tragedy.

For such a heart-wrenching story, though, the grief of the college and the town just didn't feel real enough. My heart strings are easily plucked, but for most of this movie, they sat idle. I'm not sure if it's because you don't have a chance to get to know the people who die before the crash, or if the movie's intention was to show the triumph of the survivors rather than their pain.

One thing's for sure, though: this movie did not suffer for acting prowess. Matthew McConaughey is brilliant as Jack Lengyel, the enigmatic coach who reached out to the grieving community and pushed the institution and the NCAA to help Marshall play their next season. Kate Mara and Ian McShane play the fiancee and father (respectively) of the team's deceased quarterback, and both perform admirably in relatively minor and layer-less roles.

But the real star of this film is Matthew Fox. He expertly portrays a man torn between his grief over the loss of so many of his dearest friends and his devotion to the game and school where he worked and lived with all of them. Before the very end of the movie, I had We Are Marshall pegged for three stars on Netflix, but Fox's scene in the locker room after the game against Xavier was poignant, emotional, and perfect. If you haven't seen the movie, I suggest you don't click here, as I'm sure it doesn't hold the same gravity without having seen the character's anguish. But I just couldn't write this post without linking to the video of it.

The Last Word - It was a good movie that wasn't quite as emotional as I'd hoped, but is brought up a level by Matthew Fox's tremendous performance.

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