F.I.L.M. of the Week (August 30, 2013)

30 08 2013

“Football doesn’t build character,” says Coach Bill Courtney, “it reveals it.”  It’s one of many wise maxims uttered by the sage volunteer football coach in the documentary “Undefeated,” my pick for “F.I.L.M. of the Week.”  It’s a great watch during football season, an inspiring and rousing time for everyone.

Directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin did not win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature because they made a superb sports movie.  “Undefeated” is a football film with surprising insights that extend deceptively far beyond the field.  It’s got everything you love about “The Blind Side” without everything that I hated about “The Blind Side.”

The film brilliantly uses football to shine a light on problems plaguing inner-city communities such as this one in Memphis: poor education, lack of sufficient funding and facilities, absent fathers, and a lack of positive role models, just to name a few.  Over the course of the season, many of these issues come to a head, threatening to derail all the hard work of Manassas High’s fledgling and upstart football team.

With a quiet and understated lens, Lindsay and Martin catch Coach Courtney dealing with these the best way he knows how: with patience, understanding, and character above all.  Courtney himself grew up without the strong presence of his father, and he has chosen to pay it forward out a kind and generous heart.  It’s remarkable to see the way he and his team are able to overcome so many obstacles on the field and in their community.  Sure enough, we see all the heart and character laid bare before our eyes as promised by Courtney.

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