|Index||2 reviews in total|
Saw this at Tribeca for its premiere. It's an amazing and touching
movie. I never thought I would be interested in racing, but they
explain it right in the beginning and manage to make it interesting and
easy to follow. That's saying a lot for me as I've always thought
racing to be a complete bore.
The three kids in this movie are probably the most charismatic subjects you will ever see in a documentary. Every interview (even with the parents) is remarkably candid and unique. The racing sequences themselves are exhilarating but its the moments that surprise and break your heart which make this movie complete. For a distinctly American sport, this film gives great insight into the lives of the youth here who pursue it.
Not to be missed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Racing Dreams", Marshall Curry's first foray back into film
post-Streetfight, channels Steve James' timeless "Hoop Dreams" in more
than just name. Focusing the camera's attention on the soft underbelly
of a sport that encapsulates the country's attention, Curry immerses
himself in the lives of three stars of the World Karting Association, a
known breeding ground for future NASCAR drivers. Editing over 500 hours
of footage down into just 93 minutes, the Oscar-nominated director
manages to weave a tale of adrenaline-fuelled competition and
adolescent drama in equal measure.
The three racing protégés play more than their part. Josh Hobson, the 12-year old defending champion, is the competition's (and his own school's) pin-up boy. The consummate professional, he is shown studying up on drivers' autobiographies, analysing the victory speeches of NASCAR winners for tips on how to thank sponsors (the question of finance is a recurrent and difficult topic) and even driving the sale of raffle tickets at his own fund-raising golf day. Managing to race on weekends whilst preserving a 4.0 GPA, Hobson is the perfectionist who will stop at nothing to increase his chances of achieving his goal of becoming a professional driver.
Annabeth Barnes, 11 years old and the sole female in a competition (and sport) dominated by men, is competing not only with the prejudice of her compatriots, but also with the pressure of a racing family. A third-generation driver, her affable, middle-class parents both work hard to allow her to chase the family dream of becoming a professional driver, but she increasingly finds herself torn by the desire to remain a normal girl and not have to sacrifice time that could be spent with her friends.
Finally, Brandon Warren is the 13-year old competition's renegade. Disqualified for dangerous driving the previous year when set to win the championship, Warren has not had it easy in life. Son to a drug-taking mother and a father in and out of prison, he has been brought up by his stoic grandparents, who do all they can to keep him on the right path. Perhaps the most naturally talented driver on the circuit, Warren's career hopes are cruelled by his prickly image, sponsor's are unlikely to attach themselves to such a personality. Regretfully, this season therefore looms as his last.
Curry's film is edited superbly, with just enough racing knowledge to make the action sequences understandable and just enough off-track, personal drama to open up the drivers to their audience. That said, the film often feels disparate as we jump between the complications and uncertainty in the lives of Brandon and Annabeth, and the all-steam-ahead attitude of Hobson. For the first two, racing is competing with the other issues in their live, Brandon with a deadbeat dad and the prospect of a military career, Barnes with puberty and a disillusionment with constant racing. By contrast, for Hobson racing is his life, his parents may discuss money worries but his father is unyielding in his pledge to mortgage their life away to allow Joshua to chase his dream.
Perhaps it is a sign of a great documentary that it is sufficiently engaging to merit the critique that it deserved two, separate tellings, but that is nevertheless the conclusion drawn.
Concluding Thought: At $5,000 a race, this is one hobby my kids (when they arrive) won't be picking up.
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