7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A mature and intelligent film
Terrell Howell (KnightsofNi11) from United States
4 April 2011
I was lucky enough to get to see this little gem at the Dallas Film
Festival this past weekend. This is just one of those films that you
have to put complete faith in that it will be good. There are no big
names attached to this film and it has no big production power behind
it. But it doesn't need any of that because it is simply a great film.
It is a strange little coming of age story about a young boy named
Julius, played by the stoically excellent Ryan Akin. Julius is a very
bright boy who is currently studying worms for his school science fair.
But he is dealing with a lot of things in his life much more difficult
than studying worms. His mother is dating the principal of his school,
he and his girlfriend Shiley aren't sure about where they want to take
their relationship next, his grandfather may be having an affair, and
to top it all off his biological father might be a homosexual, but he
doesn't know because he hasn't seen the man in years. This film is a
very mature and very sophisticated look at life, love, adultery, and
acceptance, all through the eyes of children, a lens film rarely looks
Five Time Champion is a very sophisticated film, but it doesn't take
itself too seriously. It does a great job at being an often times
quirky film that is filled with plenty of great laugh out loud moments.
But the purpose and deeper meaning of the film is never lost amidst the
joking. This is a very quiet film most of the time. It's somber and
somewhat bittersweet, but has a lot of heart. You fall in love with the
characters and they all carry a great story which is essentially
character driven. All of the characters provide their own little quirks
and all of their outlooks on life drive the story and keep its meaning
close to the heart. The characters excellently cover a wide age range.
You have the kids of the film, Julius and Shiley mostly, who give the
film its innocence but also provide most of its maturity. The kids in
this film are very bright and very intellectual and their view of the
world is often times more profound than the adults of the film whose
world views are shrouded by years of angst and experience. After the
films screening there was a brief Q&A session with the director,
producer, and some of the actors. Noell Coet, the girl who plays
Shiley, put it best when she said that adults underestimate kids, a
theme that is so prevalent in Five Time Champion.
Moving up the age scale there are the various middle aged adults, each
of different maturity levels as well as intelligence levels. Dana
Wheeler-Nicholson plays Julius' mother who fights a constant struggle
throughout the film. She fights for the love and acceptance of her son,
as well as pleasing herself and doing what she wants to do, which at
first is to marry Melvin, Julius' rich principal, but she later wants
to do other things. Other, slightly less moral things involving Levi,
an old friend of hers who is arguably the most fun character of the
film. He is the quirkiest and probably the most lovable. But he never
falls by the wayside as the simple one dimensional comic relief doofus.
His role in the film is key and the relationship he has with Julius
compared to the one he has with Julius' mother furthers the points of a
child's maturity and understanding of the real world and the human
balance of what we want to do and what we should do.
Lastly, there is a side story involving Julius' grandparents. His
grandmother suspects his grandfather of cheating and we get to watch as
their relationship waxes and wanes as they try to keep their life
going, as well as support their daughter and grandson. Their story is
the smallest of the film, but it has its place and it provides some
excellent scenes with some profoundly excellent lines that really make
this film as human and real as it is.
Five Time Champion may not seem like much on the outside, but it has a
lot to offer on the inside. It is a very smart film with a sharp
script, fantastic characters, and great performances by all the actors.
For what this film was trying to accomplish, I believe it did an
astounding job and really delivered a whole hearted film experience. I
look forward to seeing what the director, Berndt Mador, will come up
with for his next film to see what all he can improve from the great
starting point of his career he has achieved with Five Time Champion.
This is just one of those films that can stick with you, and if you
don't enjoy it than there is something wrong with your heart.
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