Earlier in the week I asked Helaine if she wanted to go to the movies Saturday. She did. In fact, she already had a movie picked out, “Friday Night Lights.”
The ads will tell you this is a movie starring Billy Bob Thornton. Actually, it is a true ensemble cast. Billy Bob just has the biggest name (length as well as notoriety).
It is the story of the Permian High School football team in a year when they have been anointed to win the state championship.
Is it possible for a movie to be excellent and still not enjoyable? This is not a feel good movie. In fact, in many ways it is a feel bad movie.
The lives being portrayed are tortured lives. These are people in a place devoid of beauty. Odessa, Texas is portrayed as a place, seemingly, devoid of intellect or culture.
Let’s talk technique. Within the first fifteen minutes, I had the feeling this movie was shot without the benefit of a tripod. I suppose for short spurts, handheld camera work intensifies the action and emotion. As the film moved on, I found it was just exhausting.
The football hits were violent. This film certainly gave the physical sense of football more than what is seen or heard on NFL broadcasts.
There was blood. There was pain. You could see it in the faces and hear it when bodies collided. Broken bones were accompanied by the sound of those bones breaking.
Though you knew, early in the movie the star player would have a dramatic letdown, most of the script was unpredictable and realistic. The actors themselves were excellent (as an ensemble, I’ll address them as one).
If there was a standout, it was Tim McGraw as the alcoholic father of a star player. He was powerful and believable.
Here’s my problem. When the movie was over, I was left disturbed by what I had seen. It was well written, well acted, shakily shot and emotionally troubling.
Maybe I’m too much of a sap who needs happy endings? There was no happy ending here.