Friday, February 10, 2006

Four Minutes


Dir: Charles Beeson (several Hallmark movies/Masterpiece theater)

Clumsy ESPN production chroncling what was at the time one of the greatest athletic accomplishments ever. The four minute mile may have captivated people at the time, but it does not captivate us today as a film.

Ok, the acting is pretty good. A genteel Britishness pervades all of the characters ("good show, Bannister. God save the Queen"). The runner was a medical doctor by trade, and the scenes of his medical school education are interesting as exemplars of Oxford. The running scenes are also well done, with a surprising restraint in the use of montage (montage!).

But the writing. Oh the faults of the made-for-TV squeeze-everything-into-an-hour-and-a-half format. Bannister falls in love in the first twenty minutes, then that girl leaves him and he has another love by the top of the hour. Three years pass between races in the blink of an eye. Oh, he's an M.D. now? When did that happen?

All of this breakneck pacing makes the plot points contrived and stale. I don't really care whether he breaks the record or not, because the film has failed to take the time to make me care about the man. Events happen like I might read them in a newspaper artice. They are noted, I appreciate why they matter to the story, but I could be reading about any manner of happening.

This movie needs an extra hour. Bannister is interesting and the story should be told, but this film fails due to the constraints of the genre. BTW, the record is currently held by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, set July 7 1999 at 3:43:13. I bet there's a movie in that guy's life.



Blogger ronvon2 noted on 2/10/2006 08:42:00 PM that...

My guess is that when producers are shopping around a script, ESPN is not their first stop.