really bad movie. Seriously. It has some good moments. It has a bunch of good stories but you don’t really get any of them. What you get is, white Hollywood’s typical fixation with black people and what they want them to be.
Somewhere beneath the muck of the film, RACE is the story of Jesse Owens and his quest for Gold in the 1936 Berlin games. The story is a compelling one, and one that isn’t well known, but for the occasional mention of it in passing by a sportswriter here and there. Yet, RACE, as another review has mentioned, decides to inject several other stories into the story.
There is the U.S. struggle over whether to go compete in Nazi Germany at all. There is the struggle of a German filmmaker to make a movie about the games. There is the struggle of Owens’ coach to live vicariously through Owens, as a result of his own failings to capture Gold in a previous Olympics. Let me provide some advice: in the future, just make a documentary like ‘The Civil War’ and call it ‘the 1936 Olympic Games.’
Using the word, ‘RACE” here was likewise corny for me. It is not long into the film that race, the racial construct is invoked, and you know as well that Owens is a track and field star from Ohio. The clever nature of the title is immediately impotent. The film does explore the madness of “race” but that is historical and has nothing to
All of these stories are fine but you can’t tell them all in two hours. You could pull it off over perhaps 14–20 hours but RACE lasts 2 hours and that is not enough. The Owens story is the story and is the most important one here. The continued drift from that story is what weakens this cinematic tale.
One lesson of screenwriting I have learned (in classes I have taken) is the story cannot ever not be on the screen in a short film like this. The main character struggling to overcome their challenges — the immediate and the personality quirks — must be forever on the screen unless you are doing an ensemble. If that isn’t the case. be careful. In RACE, Owens vanishes often and you want him back immediately
The sum of this chaos of a film: another African-American giant of a human being who confronted racism on their terms, is treated like a second class cinematic topic. No real surprise in America.