"Race" is the best movie you are not turning out to see. The film, which depicts the life of Olympian Jesse Owens, opened in theaters this past weekend at #6. That is a shame as the quality of the acting, the importance of the story, and the overall entertainment value it brings means it should be a smash hit. So get up and get out to see it in theaters on the big screen where it deserves to be seen.
Jesse Owens (Stephan James) made it to college in the 1930's due to his uncanny ability to run - fast! He had the luck to have a coach there by the name of Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis). This was a time when there were only a few black students at America's colleges, and even fewer black athletes. Snyder didn't care if Owens was black, white or whatever. He just wanted someone who could win races and that is exactly what Owens did.
During this time the Olympic Committee for the United States was trying to decide whether or not they should participate in the 1936 Olympic Games which were to be held in Berlin. Because of Hitler's fanatical views and discriminatory rules against both black and Jewish athletes there was much doubt as to America's participation. But negotiations between Avery Brundage (Jeremy Irons) and Joseph Goebbels (Barnaby Metschurat) resulted in certain promises of behavior on the part of the Germans so a team was fielded.
There is a lot of back story given in the film about Owens and that adds to the overall effect of the movie. We get insights into his personal life which round out the portrait of the man. Of course it is Owens physical achievements that give the film its impetus and land the audience smack in the heart of the Olympic Games. The cinematography and scenic design are excellent throughout but especially at the Olympics.
James is believable as the man Jesse Owens and also in the physical requirements of the role. The movie is at its best when both James and Sudeikis are on screen together. James gives the movie its spirit, while Sudeikis' performance gives it its heart. Together they lift the movie to greatness.
Other actors who stand out in the film are William Hurt, Glynn Turman, Amanda Crew and Andrew Moodie. They have small roles but each of these actors add to the professionalism of the film. They enter the movie as part of Owens' home life, college life, or Olympian life.
The film is rated PG-13 for profanity and adult situations.
"Race" is a most appropriately named film as it addresses Owens life as a black man as well as his superb abilities to run. There is a lot of history captured in the story and it is as important today as it was then, or even more so. Owens victories celebrate the best of times and the worst of times in our country. It is a film deserving of success and I hope you help make it so.
I scored "Race" an athletic 8 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper