The Rocket is a great sports film
BY GOLLY THEY’VE GONE AND DONE IT AGAIN!!! I love French cinema and I am glad a lot of their greatness is spilling into French-Canadian cinema. This is a great movie. One of the best sports bio movies I’ve seen in a while. Also it’s a man’s man’s film. If you have ever heard of the game of hockey then you need to see this film.
I really do not know much about Hockey. I just know that it is fun to watch and usually makes for a fun video game. Other then the basic rules I do not know much about the history of it, just that I’ve always wanted to play it but never have. This movie now makes me want to play it even more then before, in fact the movie wanted me to go and play any sport in general more then before. The great thing about this movie is that it is a depiction of a working class sports hero, Maurice Richard is the sort of athlete you imagine all great athletes being. Also this movie makes you realize how terrible and useless all major athletes are these days.
What I loved about this film is that it does not spoon feed you verbatim information. It does not hold your hand throughout the life of Maurice Richard as most bio films do. The only real set ups it gives you are the year or the hockey season. You need to have a basic grasp of history to follow along and realize all the impacts of his life decisions. It is also interesting because it taught me stuff I never really knew about Canada. I was ignorant to the fact that French-Canadians were seen as second class citizens, and how Maurice Richard is their hero.
The movie is probably closer to a straight up bio picture then a sports movie, because there is no ‘big game’ for Richard to win, because he pretty much wins everything. Yes there is a lot of hockey on screen, but they are all moments of triumph or teaching for Richard. The movie follows his life as a poor teen working during the day to support his parents and playing hockey at night, which becomes Richard’s adult life as well, working at a factory by day and being the world’s greatest hockey player at night. This is what I am talking about when I say it makes you realize how terrible athletes these days are, could you even imagine some multi-million dollar earning sports star ever setting foot in a factory let alone working there day in day out as well as playing the sport? That was back when people played the sport out of love for the game, yes there was fame and money but you still had to be a human, even though these players were more inhuman then anyone playing today.
I just loved this movie. It is from 2007 and I the fact that I just heard about it, sort of feels like a travesty. I can’t believe it was not nominated for at least best foreign film at the time, let alone best actor/director/cinematography/other shit. It is a great period film, everything feels real about it, stuff feels lived in for the time, also it does good by keeping to it’s probably modest budget by not doing anything too grand all the set’s feel intimate and right for the time. They intermix some stock footage of the time and sometimes put the actors from the movie in them to great effect, it works really well. In fact I am just assuming they used stock footage they may have actually done some of those shots, they worked really well.
As for the hockey, it is hockey to the dramatic max. It is always how you imagine hockey. They put you right in the middle of the game and use slo-mo to great effect. Since I don’t know much about Maurice Richard I am just going to assume that Roy Dupuis portrays him characteristically correct, he is great in this movie I buy the character he is trying to be. He is very stoic in his portrayal, but it never goes over the edge into the overly melodramatic. Maurice had a hard time hardening his body to match his skill and got injured all the time at the start of his hockey career, so he had to prove that he had the body to match his talent on the ice. Once he did that he had to prove that he was harder then any other player on the ice. Once he did that he had to prove that the world that French Canadians were not to be treated as second class citizens anymore.
I’m all over the place in this review because it is hard to tie down just exactly what was so good about this movie besides everything. The only gripe I had was his wife, she was very one note (always overly worried about him) would have like to seen something different from her. To balance that out though was the relationship he had with his coach (which was the more important one of the movie) played by Stephen McHattie who does a great job channelling Paul Newman. In the end, watch this movie. It’ll put some hair on your chest and make you hate all sports players of today, also it will make you want to play hockey without a helmet so you can fight better.