Friday, April 5, 2013

DIFF 2013 Review: CRASH REEL- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Lucy Walker
Synopsis: A documentary about the rise and fall of professional snowboarder, Kevin Pearce.

If you asked the common person to name one professional snowboarder, Shaun White would be their answer. White dominated the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but there was another figure who was tapped to give White a run for his money and possibly beat him. His name is Kevin Pearce.

There's a fierce competitive rivalry between the two, and we relive their competitive snowboarding seasons and battle to the 2010 Olympics through various thrilling, action clips and home movies that director Lucy Walker splices together. Pearce has a close group of "Frends" (they purposefully leave out the "i" because they're a group and not individuals) who all train and hang out together. Through these flashbacks, Walker was able to perfectly capture his vivacious, fun personality and the camaraderie these snowboaders shared. A young athlete at the top of his game in one of the most intense new sports around. Walker perfectly captures these years in Pearce's life with quick edits, breathtaking competition clips, and loud rock music. He had nothing but the world ahead of him.

Flash forward to New Years Eve of 2009. The Frends were training in Park City, Utah and while performing a trick Pearce had practiced countless times before, he miscalculated his flips, his snowboard missed the snow, and he landed face first on the half-pipe. In a devastating instant, his snowboarding world and Olympic dreams were gone. His determination to get back to what he loves was palpable, and with every new hurdle that he conquers, the question lingers in his mind of, "not can I go back to competing, but when will I go back."

Walker brilliantly captures the struggle of Pearce and his unrelenting drive to snowboard again, or as his father puts it, his addiction. Though he continues in slowly getting back to his normal life, his family is still very weary of him ever competing again. During every doctor visit, he's just waiting for their blessing to get back on the snow, and every time they tell him that he could die if he ever had an accident like that again. The dichotomy of the struggles of his need to get back to the sport he loves and his family wanting to be supportive but afraid for his health is heartbreaking.

The strength of this film lies with the Pearce family dynamics and their constant battle with Kevin in being supportive of his dreams but wanting him not to get hurt again. However, the film takes an odd turn where it becomes a tad preachy about the dangers of extreme sports and how many athletes have been seriously injured and/or died. Since becoming popular over the last decade, extreme sports have gotten more and more dangerous wanting athletes to push themselves to the breaking point all for exciting television. The whole idea would make for another interesting documentary itself, but it just felt a tad tacked onto this film.

CRASH REEL ended up being a heartbreaking yet poignant tale. Anyone who has a passion that consumes their life can relate to Kevin's tragedy. And if you're not keen on documentaries, this is such a wonderful and strong film with a plethora of personalities that keep you engrossed in the story.

CRASH REEL is showing this evening, April, 5th, at 10 p.m. at the Magnolia Dallas.

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