Based on the life of Olympic hopeful Steve Prefontaine, a long distance runner who lived in Oregon and died young.Based on the life of Olympic hopeful Steve Prefontaine, a long distance runner who lived in Oregon and died young.Based on the life of Olympic hopeful Steve Prefontaine, a long distance runner who lived in Oregon and died young.
Excellent Sports Film
I saw this last night on the BBC--I don't think it ever had a theatrical release in Britain--and thought it was excellent. I remember this film and its rival, Without Limits, when they were released in 1997 but never saw them. Users have commented on how much this film resembled the '70's era, right down to the soundtrack and overall style of the film, as if that kind of authenticity is to its detriment. It does remind one of that '70's TV movie classic, Brian's Song, but then, what other era should this film resemble?! It's no surprise that the documentary storytelling style works so well since the director and writer, Steve James, made one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the '90's--the basketball flik, Hoop Dreams (highly recommended as well). But shooting a documentary and recreating the style of one are two different things and though they probably both have their perils, recreating that style in service to drama must have much steeper pitfalls. Steve James (and company) completely succeed here. Jared Leto gives a compelling performance as Pre and forces the viewer to sympathise with him in very unique ways. He's not immensely likable but when he runs...one understands that great athletic performers, like Steve Prefontaine, did not win races on personality alone. But it's the way that the rest of cast responds to him, their admiration completely palpable and on the surface, that moves the viewer to embrace him as well. He's heartbreaking when he asks, "Do I look like a runner?" American sports films usually obscure their central figures by ladling on heavy doses of heavy-handed inspiration. Not so with this film. Pre emerges a gifted, young, confused but determined individual who inspires not through his athletic performances but through the strength of his character and what he did for amateur athletics. The ending doesn't so much jerk tears from the viewer as it allows them to flow freely and copiously. An underrated, lost gem of a film.
- Jul 12, 2002
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