The Boys in the Boat is a wonderful, true story of overcoming the odds, facing defeat and winning on a global stage as underdogs against the Nazi superpower of Germany during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The movie, based on the best-selling book of the same name, released in 2013, focuses on the University of Washington's men's rowing team as they prepare to compete in the 1936 Summer Olympics - Men's Eight.
Photo courtesy of imdb.com.
The movie features an experienced cast led by the superb direction of George Clooney. He gets the best performances from his cast and at the ideal moments throughout the film. Our main character is Joe Rantz, portrayed by the skilled and likable Callum Turner. Joel Edgerton plays the stern, tough and believable Al Ulbrickson, famous coach of the rowing team.
George Clooney is on set directing. Photo courtesy of imdb.com.
The film is expertly paced and acted through Clooney's masterful direction. We see and feel Rantz's struggles during the Great Depression and his desire to pay for his college through rowing. The American Spirit and can-do attitude are alive and well throughout the story. Edgerton plays the letter-perfect coach who believes in his boys but demands perfection from them to achieve victory in the water. The cast is well played across the board with Jake Mulhern as Don Hume, Sam Strike as Roger Morris, Hadley Robinson as Rantz's love interest, Joyce Simdars, Alec Newman as Harry Rantz, Joe's absentee father, the lovely and memorable Peter Guinness as boat builder George Pocock, and many more. Mulhern brings heart and depth to the role of Hume and pushes through adversity to help bring home the gold medal. Robinson is endearing and a breath of fresh air in her on-camera moments and provides further encouragement for Turner's Rantz. Guinness brings fatherly wisdom and mentorship to Rantz in the film. Courtney Henggegler does a fine job bringing real drama to the relationship with her on-screen husband, Hazel Ulbrickson. She sees and feels the stresses of her husband and plays a solid supporting role to Edgerton's Coach Ulrbickson. It is nice to see two partners supporting each other in the story.
Photo courtesy of imdb.com.
We get to see some of the university politics when the boys chosen to go to the Olympics are from the junior boat over the varsity boat because of their ability. Some things change in time and others stay the same. Boosters and administrators throw their hands up in protest, however the team stays strong together. The cinematography, costume, and set design deserve many kudos for their beauty. In nearly every scene, the water, sun and characters jump right off-screen. The costumes and ambiance make you believe as though you are watching a real-life footage documentary of life in the 1930s. The clothing and period set for the rough part of town Rantz lives in makes you feel and nearly smell the grime of life in such an adverse time. The clothing and production design for the university feels like a total throwback to a different time and has echoes of the Art Deco design that permeated American society at the time. Clooney paces the film to a crescendo with victory over the Nazi scum, which is in a similar vein to Apollo 13 and Titanic with the audience knowing the ending; we don't know how and when exactly it will come, though. When it does we are excited and the theater I was in clapped and cheered at the American victory from 1936.
Callum Turner and Hadley Robinson in the film. Photo courtesy of imdb.com.
The Boys in the Boat gets a 3.5 out of 4 Red Star Clusters and a resounding endorsement for people to see the movie. Nazi fascism is defeated at the Olympics on their home turf, and it is so sweet to see. Jesse Owens, the famous Olympic Gold Medalist winner and runner from The Ohio State University, shows up in a brief moment with the rowing team as the games begin, which is a positive moment, foreshadowing his historic victory over the Nazis as well. History was made at the 1936 Olympics and we, as audience members, got a front-row seat. Take a load off, kick back and watch a highly positive movie about discipline, teamwork and fighting the odds to win victoriously on the world's biggest sports stage over a deserving enemy at the Olympics.