The Jesse Owens biopic “Race” overcomes its audience with happiness and inspiration with the story about the man who won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.
The film starring Stephen James as Owens and Jason Sudeikis as Larry Snyder perfectly embodies the tough love relationship between an athlete and coach. Snyder, who missed his Olympic
opportunity by three weeks due to a helicopter incident, pours his passion into Owens, mirroring a father-son bond and wanting only Owens’s success. Not only does the film capture Owens’s life on the track in Nazi Germany, but also the racism Owens faced in America even after his achievements, along with a plethora of responsibilities given to him through life circumstances.
One of the most memorable scenes depicts a conversation between Lux Long, a Berlin native/athlete, and Owens, where both find that the situations of their countries are one in the same as far as hardships go. The scene silences the room, yet speaks volumes.
With the underlying tone of feminism throughout the film, Carice van Houten as Leni Riefenstahl, a woman hired to capture the 1936 Olympics on film, overcomes conflict when German officials imposed rules to censor her project. A confident Riefenstahl snaps back and said she is recording history by capturing the Olympic events on film and will not be deterred.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t address the life after Owens’s success in Berlin and also ends abruptly, leaving the viewer unfulfilled. The director, Stephen Hopkins, allowed the story to conclude with a sense of joy for Owens’s accomplishments yet concern with America’s social ills. Overall, the film went above greatness for the story of a great athlete and an even greater man
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