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SFF’13 Movie Review: “The Crash Reel”

January 23, 2013

KPTwo time Oscar nominated documentary filmmaker, Lucy Walker, has brought us powerful, not to mention important stories to light; from the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit in “Waste Land” to the harrowing tale about survivors of  the 2011 Japan tsunami crisis in “”The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” now brings us the true story about competitive snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who at one time was the 2010 Olympic favorite, until a tragic incident occurred that changed Kevin’s life forever.

On December 31st, 2009, Kevin Pearce went to visit Park City, UT to do one thing with his group of best friends: snowboard for fun! Kevin had been training and competing relentlessly for the past few years prior, during that time he’s been one-ing up Shaun White every step of the way to that Olympic gold. As Pearce made his way down the half pipe at PC Mountain Resort the unthinkable happens. What was considered by his close friends as the ‘perfect storm of falls’, Kevin crashed head first in the snow, leaving him permanently brain-damaged for life. Luckily for Kevin, his will to survive and live was stronger than ever, the film chronicles Kevin’s recovery and shows us what it means to never give up on your dreams.

While Kevin doesn’t compete anymore, knowing that one more hit to the head may kill him, Pearce has become an advocate and spokesman for the ‘Love Your Brain’ campaign. He speaks on behalf of everyone who’s suffered brain-like trauma and send the message out that wearing a helmet was the one thing that saved his family from attending Kevin’s funeral.

The movie also explores Kevin’s loving family, who stood by him every step of the way, who in forced important family meetings to have Kevin realize that if he does compete again, he may end up not so lucky. The movie contrasts with Kevin’s younger brother David. David has also been challenged all his life with down syndrome, and at times David wishes that he wasn’t the way he is, but David’s disability doesn’t bring him down, he does his very best not to let it. David has competed in the Special Olympics during his young adult life, he looks to Kevin for inspiration, but at the same time worries for his brothers safety and life.

The movie shows us that Kevin & David are two kindred spirits who will continue to fight the good fight and never stop loving one another, their friends, and their family. “The Crash Reel”, necessarily explores the world of extreme winter sports; skiing as well as snowboarding. Going into a career such as this shows that the risks are very real, and some haven’t turned out so lucky as Kevin did after their crash. The movie respectfully touches on the topic of the late Sarah Burke, it’s stories like these that should grab the attention of young kids/teens everywhere who wish to go into these competitive sports.

Like last years Sundance doc premiere, “Ethel”, HBO Docs brings us yet another powerhouse drama that tentatively explores the portrait of an American family who’ve gone through it all; trials and tribulations, yet at the same time victory in ones self and everyone around him or her.

GRADE: A-

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