Movies: Race Review (or ‘Worth Seeing If You Still Can’)

Sometimes films don’t get a fair crack of the whip, so to speak.

Take Race – the biopic of 1930s Olympic legend Jesse Owens – for example. At my local cinema it was given very little screen time, with a single 12:15 showing at weekends and an extra one at 18:15 during the week. Now maybe Cineworld did their homework and decided more money could be made showing other films in prime slots, but it meant that anyone who wanted to go had a very limited opportunity.race

And maybe it’s because of that, or perhaps it was because Race just didn’t appeal to the masses, but there were only seven other people in when we went at 18:15 on Tuesday.

That’s a pity because in my opinion, if you didn’t go then you’ve missed out.

Race is an enjoyable movie that – in spite of its lengthy 134 minute running time – never gets dull and certainly kept me entertained all the way through.

I have read that it’s “by-the-numbers”, “middle-of-the-pack” and “fails to fully explore 1930s racial politics” but I’m not so sure any of that matters. It’s a biopic and therefore the story can only be as interesting as the subject matter. Owens story is one that appeals to someone sporty like me and while I couldn’t tell you if it was 100% accurate, that didn’t stop it from being a good watch.

As for the notion that it fails to deal with racial politics fully, I’m personally glad. From what I do know about Jesse Owens, his triumph did nothing to change those politics and so I’d question why that should be the central focus of the film. It certainly touched upon it enough to let us know there were issues, but the focus of the piece was rightly on Owens himself.

Like I say, I enjoyed it and would recommend you go to see it, but at this stage, you’re more likely to have to wait until it’s released on DVD.

Anyway, here are a few other random observations I have about Race…

  • For the second time this year, I’ve gone to a film where Tim McInnerny has been cast as a member of the Olympic committee; the other being Eddie the Eagle. What a weird thing to be typecast as.
  • Speaking of Eddie the Eagle, it made me question the characters in this. Did Owens really have a coach like Larry Snyder or was he made up to suit the narrative. Thankfully he did.
  • Jeremy Irons with an American accent sounds exactly like John Lithgow. It’s weird.
  • To criticise it, I did feel that some parts of Race were brushed over. For example, they built up a rivalry between Owens and another sprinter in the run up to the Olympics and then dropped it before it got interesting.
  • Also, the brief affair he had didn’t do much to advance the plot considering his fiancée immediately forgave him.
  • I like that the focus of the Nazis was on Goebbels rather than Hitler.
  • The direction and the scale of the scenes set in the Olympic Stadium were very good.
  • Every track event Owens took part in in the USA appeared to be filmed in the same venue. I don’t think that was meant to be the case.




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