Wednesday, 2 September 2015

McFarland, USA (2015)





Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Morgan Saylor, Carlos Pratts, Elsie Fisher, Johnny Ortiz, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar, Michael Aguero, Rafael Martinez, Diana-Maria Riva, Vanessa Martínez, Martha Higareda, Valente Rodriguez, Chris Ellis, Eloy Casados


Struggling coach and teacher Jim White (Kevin Costner) who has been had to move around for different incidents in his career finally comes to one of the poorest cities in America: McFarland, California. There he discovers buried potential among several high school boys and slowly turns them into championship runners and brings them closer than even he could ever imagine.


When it comes to Disney and sport films, you already know it's going to be the traditional underdog movie - just think about Remember the Titans. Somehow, this film goes a bit deeper than usual.

Still clichéd, McFarland, USA is a truly good, inspirational and sometimes moving sport drama, whose supporting cast outshines a great Kevin Costner.

As usually happens in these Disney films, there is the underdog team/athlete that has to overcome in a sport and in their lives. And of course, the underdogs always win. As you can tell, it's the same story over and over again. However, the great script and director Niki Caro have executed the story so well that everything seems fresh, and it's involving from start to finish. You won't even be bothered by the clichés because they are well done.

The characters are all quite deep and I liked seeing them - mostly the Mexicans - dealing with different aspects in their lives, like working in a field to support their family, still pushing as hard as they can on track, and the heart they put in what they do, because they know what it means to be considered lesser just because of where you come from.

What I liked about this film is the similarity with Gran Torino. Both movies, even if completely different, are about a pretty much racist white man who explores a different culture and learns to appreciate it.

The acting is great. Kevin Costner gives a strong performance as Jim White, and nails another starring role as the same character he has been playing recently. Maria Bello gives a nice performance as White's wife. However, as I mentioned before, the supporting cast, in particular the seven guys in the cross country team, are the standouts. They all give great performance and they are a solid group.


Jose Cardenas: We fly like blackbirds through the orange groves, floating on a warm wind. When we run, we own the earth. The land is ours. We speak the birds' language. Not immigrant no more. No stupid Mexicans. When we run, our spirits fly. We speak to the gods. When we run, we are the gods.

Jim White: I've seen you out in the fields. You're an ox. So when you're in pain out there on this mountain, I want you to remember, so is the guy next to you, and the guy in front of you. This is gonna come down to which runners can handle the pain. So I want you to look at them, and I want you to look at each other and ask yourself, "Who's tougher?" 

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