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David Chappellet is a mean-spirited skier, who profits from another skier's injury to gain a spot on the American Olympic team. His roommate sums up his goals when he observes of David, "He's not for the team, and he never will be"; but precisely who the David is that David is so fiendishly striving for we're never to learn. He develops a short-lived relationship with Carole Stahl, a glamorous European woman even more capricious than himself. Chappellet's identity trouble are exacerbated by the fact that he is an "Event" as well as a personality; and more astute minds than his own have difficulty where the one leaves off and the other takes over. Director Michael Richie's ("The Candidate") feature film debut. Written by
Redford gives a low-key performance as a thoroughly unlikable member of the US Ski Team in the late 1960's, and he doesn't become any more likable as the story unfolds. Perhaps that's why the film gets such mixed reviews. The Olympic and racing sequences have an almost-documentary look to them, and for good reason. The story goes that IOC officials refused permission for the film crew to shoot during the actual Olympic events; the producers got around that inconvenience by giving hand-held cameras to cast members so they could shoot crowd scenes and background footage on the sly. It's hard to like David Chappellet, and making him a more sympathetic character might have been easier, but I think it's a much better story as-is. As we know all too well these days, world-class athletes aren't always aren't always the charming heroes we'd like them to be.
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