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A look into the life of troubled former hockey player Brian Spencer, who got into problems both on the ice and off because of his temper. The film also has a close focus on Spencer's father, and shows how he influenced Brian's life both before and after his death. Written by
This is a haunting yarn about the real life misadventures of NHL hockey player Brian "Spinner" Spencer. Life in major league hockey is pretty heady stuff, but it is far different than the 'real' world. Whenever a player, particularly a great one, leaves the "Bigs" and has to cope in reality again, it can be a rude awakening.
In this story, Spencer's father is shown on a parallel track bound for hellishness. Along the way, there are a lot of thrills, spills, chills and yes....even pills. In the end, Spencer's life seems to have been vanity and chasing the wind.
Screenwriter Paul Gross took a good portion of the original novel and molded it into a fascinating bio-dramatic examination of Spencer. I think Atom Egoyan did a fabulous job as director. Loved seeing hockey personalities like Davey Keon, John McLellan and Greg Polis dramatized.
The 1960s Hockey Night In Canada opening (complete with that wonderful theme) is the best highlight of the film for me, with the haunting voices of Billy Hewitt, Ward Cornell, Red Storey and intertwining vintage HNIC clips coming in a close second. Seeing the Tommy Hunter clip brought back memories, too. Tommy's goodbye always filled me with anticipation of the coming game, much as it must have for Spencer's father.
This isn't the best hockey movie ever made, but its the most gripping bio-drama made about a hockey player. If it ever comes out on video, I recommend renting it.
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