The Thrill of the Race
This film has a huge built-in audience among NASCAR fans, but will Racing Dreams be a winner with folks whose interests aren't driven by speed sports.
Actually, the film has a straight away formula one storyline. From the start, you know that before Racing Dreams crosses its finish line, you'll have watched a series of five go-kart races leading up to the the annual championship, and that the three featured kids putting pedal to metal in competition for pre-NASCAR glory will either take home trophies or not.
Now that rather obvious structure and its predictable outcome might seem offputting to viewers who're not enthralled by kids in cars. But, director Marshall Curry's skillful storytelling fuels your interest, so your imagination won't be left to idle for long.
Curry quickly shifts gears from the kids performances on the race track to their struggles in real life. Curry captures the most compelling aspects of his three leading characters' circumstances and personalities -- their ambitions and their angst in coping with family pressures, school, being in the public eye and raging hormones.
What makes Racing Dreams compelling from start to finish is what happens to Brandon, Annabeth and Josh between the races, rather than what they accomplish on the track in the moments between the waving of the start and finish flags. There is a rare feel of intimacy that reveals filmmaker Curry's success in establishing trusting relationships with his subjects. For example, several scenes with the tough, hot-headed and gritty Brandon reveal the boy's tender sweetness in ways that are unexpected and heartrending. You wind up rooting for this talented youngster's success beyond the race track's boundaries.
Just A Few Editing Glitches
Racing Dreams errs in two standout instances. Ironically, one of them has to do with the disappearance of a Barq's soda can from the family dining table in the home of product placement-savvy young Josh, and the other has to do with the changing length of Brandon's hair.
Is this nit-picking? Yes. But however finely focused these critical comments may be within the full framework of the film's achievements, errors in continuity in documentaries are particularly jarring--and Marshall Curry is far too good a director to let them slide by. Still, Racing Dreams is a winner, even though it's not a perfect ten.
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- Racing Dreams
- Director: Marshall Curry
- Release Date: Premiere Tribeca Film Festival, April, 2009, USA
- Running Time: 95 mins.
- Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
- Country: USA
- Language: Russian, French, with English subtitles
- Company: Marshall Curry Productions