Murderball

Tightly focused, brilliantly told documentary covering the lives and tribulations of quadriplegic rugby players training for the 2004 Athens Paralympics. The film delves into these players’ lives and the life of Team Canada’s coach–a driven, hard-nosed disciplinarian who, in the coarse of the movie, learns to be a better human being and father. The movie even goes off on a tangent at one point to follow the rehabilitation of a potential young rugby recruit. For a movie that’s only 85 minutes long, Murderball covers its ground admirably and as we become engrossed in these characters’ lives, we find ourselves deeply inspired and viewing our own lives with renewed perspective. It also doesn’t shy away from questions of sex and romance in its subjects’ lives — after all, isn’t “sex” pretty much what life boils down to? — and, again, the movie’s subjects reveal their realities honestly. How many movies can offer you that? When all’s said and done, Murderball is really a triumph of filmmaking: of structure, character development, and pacing. Directors Rubin and Shapiro are as shrewd about reaping the emotional poignancy of their material as any ambitious and talented fiction filmmaker. A great piece of work, true to itself, very engaging, and well deserved of its film festival success.

Grade: A

Directed by: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Cast: Joe Bishop, Keith Cavill, Andy Cohn, Scott Hogsett, Christopher Igoe, Bob Lujano, Kevin Orr, Joe Soares, Dave Willsie, Mark Zupan

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