DIRECTOR: Gary Ross
It is a sentimental film and does not try to disguise that fact. What gives Seabiscuit four stars is that it is sentimental with intelligence. The film follows three main characters in Charles Howard (Bridges), Red Pollard(Maguire), and Tom Smith (Cooper). These three men are living in depression era America and need some sort of break. All carry a chip on their shoulder which is addressed in the film at varying points in time. The film moves slowly and allows us to see the triggers that caused those chips on each man’s shoulder.
This is a sports film and with that comes the conventions of the genre. The initial challenge and write-off at the start of the film which leads to characters having to make decisions which affect each other.
I know nothing about horses or horseracing yet Seabiscuit as a film creates an exciting look at what jockeys, trainers and owners go through for a race. The race sequences are paced and thrilling. The camera does the work showing natural tension on the racetrack.
There are scenes and dialogue that is repeated throughout the film and one is the following:
You know, you don’t throw a whole life away just ’cause he’s banged up a little.
Themes of determination and willpower are throughout the film. Yes, you may watch the film and say ” Classic underdog story, we learn a life lesson and we pause a take thought.” Guess what? You’re right, however when it is done using genre codes and conventions so well within that underdog story, who cares!
Seabiscuit is a winner of a film and is a story that is told well by strong actors like Chris Cooper, Jeff Bridges and Tobey Maguire.
Jeff Bridges as Charles Howard
Tobey Maguire as Red Pollard
Chris Cooper as Tom Smith