William H. Macy
|"See, sometimes when the little guy doesn't know he's the little guy, he can do big things."|
|Time: 148 mins.|
Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Sound, Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
This true story about a bunch of misfits who take the racing world by storm during the Depression is the underdog of the summer season: classy, old-fashioned and overwhelmingly heartwarming. No guns, no explosions, no futuristic robots, oh my. It will be interesting to see where this non-action entrťe in the blockbuster race finishes at the box office. Personally, I relished a little counter-programming to cleanse the mindless fluff from my cinema palate. While not exactly a deep tale, SEABISCUIT is a film with a big heart and a positive attitude, engendering good will from the very first frame. Even though I knew it was essentially a success story, I was still completely enthralled by the outcome. If this was an original story, nobody would have bought it, since itís not only hokey, but wholly unbelievable. However, the facts are the facts, and though Ross and company probably made a few adjustments in their rendition, it still stands that this is the biggest Cinderella story in American sports history.
The feverish support of this horse and his compatriots came at a time when the common man was so down on his luck, he never imagined he could rise again. Ross does a wonderful job succinctly capturing the fortune and fall of our great country, illuminating a devastating time in our history most of us have no direct connection to any longer. One can only imagine the depths of poverty most families encountered after losing their homes and livelihood in the market crash of 1929. Itís this event that forces our heroes to seek new avenues of survival and to take chances on each other. How these four characters an emotionally wounded businessman, bitterly lonely jockey, aging trainer and woefully winless horse come together is, in itself, a lucky twist of fate. That they looked beyond their obvious flaws and formed a special connection based on their drive to prove themselves worthy of second chance is a miracle of the human spirit. Ross weaves their various hard-luck life experiences into a tapestry filled with loss, friendship, acceptance, redemption, faith, hope, sacrifice and trust. The characters are fairly one-dimensional, but their path to success is filled with ups and downs that define who they are and represent a triumph of the will we can all relate to.
SEABSICUIT is a simple story, yet itsí emotions carry great depth and strength. Itís an American tale through and through, one formed by itsí time, but one we can still learn from today. Everything about the film is beautifully rendered from the luscious cinematography to the entrancing score. The editing creates perfect pacing, taking the time to build layer upon layer to each emotional climax. The filmís stars may be three of the most elegant, honest and simple actors working today. They bring these characters to life with no fanfare or obvious acting tricks. Even though Maguire spends much of his time fighting and cursing, his performance is still subtle and inspiring. He may be most well-known as SPIDER-MAN, but his turn here shows what heís really capable of bringing to the table. Bridges and Cooper prove why theyíre two of the best actors of their generation. They bring humor, heart and dignity to the proceedings. As for the horse playing Seabiscuit, he gives a pretty convincing and powerful performance as well. Thereís a bright intensity and clear intelligence behind that creatureís eyes. He makes a believer out of you from the moment he steps onscreen.
While this experience may be too nostalgic and rah-rah-rah for some viewers, itís a real treat for those looking for more than murder and mayhem at the Cineplex. Though basically a drama, I dare anyone to sit through this film and not be completely caught up in the excitement of the races. Ross spent many hours at the track and his devotion to capturing the danger and thrill of thousands of pounds of horseflesh driving to the finish line delivers like gangbusters. There are moments where the action is so close, you can almost feel the wind in your face and taste the dirt on your lips. Itís so thrillingly shot, that even when you know the outcome, youíll still find yourself cheering Seabiscuit on to win. This film probably wonít end up on many Top 10 lists at the end of the year the story is too sappy and fluffy but itís still a well-crafted, uplifting, thoughtful piece of entertainment. A must-see for those who donít mind having their heartstrings pulled.