I've recently discovered Hulu on the net. You all probably know that it enables people to view certain TV shows, and Movies with limited commercial interruptions on the net for free. It's a lifesaver for me as I really enjoy the TV show In Plain Sight, but its on Sunday night at 10 pm, and if I have to work on a Monday, thats really late for me.
Anyway, Over the weekend, I got bored and found this movie on Hulu.
I found it to be "pretty good" and thought some other runners might enjoy it, so I thought I'd share.
Set in South Africa, the film focuses on The Comrades Marathon. Comrades is a special race, it's not actually a Marathon, but a 90 kilometer race across very challening terrain. While it is a fictional film, I believe the film was inspired by Rae Bisschoff, the female winner in 1998, who came out of obscurity to surprise all and dominate and win the race.
Berry, a washed up German track coach discovers a refugee, Christine, who has an exceptional talent for running. After rescuing Christine from prison where she is locked up for illegal immigration, he proposes training for the Comrades to her. Given the few options she has, Christine begins to train. She is a natural born runner, and like many, she does not do well with a completely strict schedule. However, after several trials and tribulations, she is able to dedicate herself to the training, along with some new found friends,, men that Berry also coaches. Over about 40 minutes several new developments occur, eventually Christine does run the Comrades. You'll have to watch the film to see how she and the men do.
The film itself is a bit "slow" There are lots of scenes panning the scenery in Soweto, and surrounding areas. And at times I wished they would use those moments to give me a bit more background on the characters. Having not been to South Africa, I may sound a bit silly, but, the filmmakers seem to have captured the essence of Africa in the footage of the city, and a variety of clubs, and interactions between characters. People who have not spent time (more than a 2 week chaperoned vacation) in Africa may find some of the "conditions" surprising, especially the tin corrugated bar and the shots of Soweto, but I really enjoyed these as they reminded me of some parts of Kenya, not terribly sanitary, but the food was good the beer was cold and the music fun. There were moments when I really missed Kenya, Oddly, the actress chosen to play Christine does not appear to me to be a very talented runner, she has a very short stride, and doesnt really have the same technique that I am used to seeing when watching high calibur runners. Definitely would have made the film better if they had had a real female runner, running.
Despite the slow beginning, and the not great running displayed, the characters are plausible and make you want to finish the film to see exactly what will happen. The footage of the race is extraordinary, and gripping, as most is from the actual 1999 Comrades, and I definitely felt that the Comrades footage was the best part of the film.
SInce its free on Hulu, I give it a Thumbs Up! I did have to watch it in half hour bits til the end,
The film is an odd one to me. It touches on a variety of issues- race relations post apartheid, imigration and refugees, interpersonal relationships. Unfortunately one thing that makes the film less good is that it merely touches on these issues it really doesnt delve into any of them, so I always felt like I wanted more information! The main focus of the film of course is running. Not a film for the top ten list, and definitely not for people who do not love running, but for those with a little patience, and an interest in running, it could be an enjoyable film.