Review: Race

After being extremely preoccupied with work for the last four days, I was very happy that when a family member was having a birthday on my first day off in a while, she wanted to go see a movie with us. What’s more, it was one that was on my list anyway.

 

The best news of all, however, is that Race was a pretty fantastic movie.

 

Stephan James (Jesse Owens) and Jason Sudeikis (Snyder; Owen’s coach) have a visible chemistry together, and as the movie progresses, I was happy seeing their relationship grow and develop.

 

One of the best things about this movie is the fact that whoever was behind the production obviously took great care and respect in telling this story. The type of subject matter in these type of films create quite the tricky balancing act. Go too far one way, and you end up watering down racism in the past. Go too far another way, and you end up just creating a polarizing story of villains and victims. In my opinion, this movie somehow managed to not tilt either way throughout the whole story.

 

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But the respect to the story goes deeper than the subject of racism. Jesse Owens, our protagonist, is not simply portrayed as a noble caricature, but a real life human being with real struggles and real flaws. And though the real life story of Jesse Owens is front and center in this story, Race also takes a lot of time to develop other characters as well. From Owen’s love interest, to his coach, to some of the Nazis prevalent to this story, every character feels like they are important. Even Jesse Owen’s father, who only has about 2 or 3 minutes of screen time, is developed quite richly with the short time that he’s there.

Not only that but the movie tackles quite a bit of subject matter all at once. From the political climate during pre-WWII, to the politics of the Olympics, to the treatment of blacks and jews, I am honestly quite baffled that this movie did not become a jumbled mess. Many films that try to give attention to all of these subjects and characters often crumble apart. Thankfully, Race found some way to pull everything together without ever feeling rushed.

 

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There is some predictability and cliches in this movie that come with the territory of historical films about athletes and/or racism. Not only that but some of the heartfelt moments felt kind of cheesy. However, though these elements bugged me, the positives about this movie far outweigh the negatives.

 

I enjoyed this movie. I did not expect Race to go beyond recommendable, but it made me invest emotionally more than I expected to. And in the end, it’s a fantastic, feel good story about humanity. Two black gentlemen, who were in the movie with us, were having a conversation once it was over, and the older one said “If there’s one thing that I took away, it’s that you cannot judge men as parts of a single race, but as individuals. You gotta judge each person as an individual.” I agreed with his sentiment. I highly recommend checking Race out, and I’m giving this movie an 8 out of 10.

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