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The Boys in the Boat Featured, Reviews Film Threat

The Boys in the Boat Featured, Reviews Film Threat

NOW IN THEATERS! The Boys in the Boat is a beautifully presented film with heart and soul in times of poverty and uncertainty. Based on the book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown, the motion picture The Boys in the Boat, is directed by George Clooney and written by Mark L. Smith. The story recreates the true story of how a quest for victory by unlikely underdogs led to an international stage of triumph, but not without its rigors of challenge, learning, and earning.

The intestinal fortitude it takes to be a rower and one that is in an eight-man boat is to be in incredible condition. The main character, Joe Rantz (Callum Turner), along with Roger Morris (Sam Strike) and others, are driven to survive with innate ability. Without a safety net, Joe, on his own since 14, does what he can to study and live to earn an education. The 1936 Depression-era life in Seattle, Washington, is a backdrop to this brutal existence, which, in parallel with rowing, seems to fit the desire to survive.

These young men can barely afford to eat and live, but there’s a will for school, be engineers, and raise themselves out of squalor. With looming education costs, hardship appears to prevail when an opportunity to be a rower with board and tuition paid is a possible solution. In a cattle call for rowers, Joe toughs it out and makes the team and thus begins his journey to engineering his body, mind, and soul, which adds to the formation of a winning eight-man shell.

(l-r.) Chris Diamantopoulos stars as Royal Brougham, James Wolk as Coach Bolles, and Joel Edgerton as Al Ulbrickson in director George Clooney’s THE BOYS IN THE BOAT An Amazon MGM Studios film Photo credit: Laurie Sparham © 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“…hardship appears to prevail when an opportunity to be a rower…”

Clooney takes you through the demands of crew through a patient and solid coach, Al Ulbrickson (Joel Edgerton), who stands by his team, morals, and a system that favors the rich and elite, along with his staff, especially through the father figure character of George Pocock (Peter Guinness), who is the master architect boat builder. They all add to the emotional value of the highly unlikely University of Washington JV eight-man rowing team representing the USA in the 1936 Olympics, taking out favored Germany—a slap to the furor. For the film buff, there’s a slight nod to documentary filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl through the visual depiction of the coxswains during the Olympic sequences. Coxswain Bobby Moch (Luke Slattery) is pivotal to the team’s success and a role played well.

Clooney manages to capture the artistic beauty of rowing and the essence of what a shell means in craft and form to an elite athlete, which over time has provided fans and lovers of regattas to adore and celebrate the sport, which has societal and social significance, especially among those in the Ivy League’s wealth. However, a team of Pacific Northwest boys from no money and the woods manage to upset this tradition at a time when needed in the world.

The art direction and attention to detail in The Boys in the Boat are beautiful and well done, especially capturing the feathering of the rowing, the splashing and pools of water, and the creek of the rigging as the team of eight turns the oars with muscle and unison. In addition, providing the importance of the wood and the character of creating and engineering a perfect shell adds the theme of the sport, character, and might of a team that defied all odds. In addition, the detail of presenting the 1930s in wardrobe, function, and element was exquisitely done.

As much of the film shows the perfect swing and the beauty of unison, the story lacks in depth from the love interest, Joyce Simdars (Hadley Robinson), to the unusual character of rower Don Hume (Jack Mulhern) and the other rowers where more could have been added. In addition, the book ending of a grandfather watching over his grandson learning to row is slightly lost and detached from the rest of the epic journey that is played out.

Watching The Boys in the Boat with a group of men and women from the University of Washington at a private screening at the Magic Lantern Cinemas in Ketchum, Idaho, coordinated by a University of Washington rower as a holiday gift to his friends not only made this a unique viewing experience but a case for why going to the movies matters with an audience.

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