Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Downhill Racer

A cold, insensitive, self-minded skier (Robert Redford) travels to Switzerland and joins the American squad and their hard-edged coach (Gene Hackman) as an injury replacement. Soon, through skill and dubious, unscrupulous methods, he glides his way to Olympic glory. Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer is a relevant as ever treatise on bloodthirsty competition which strives for verite like realism (I liked how Hackman would flub a word or two during a heated argument or a hand would graze the camera lens during a crash sequence) but keeps its story in the background somewhat. Redford's role is a significant departure for his typically moralistic leading roles and his character's quiet, unabashed narcissism is quite jolting. Hackman is excellent is a supporting role and the film also boasts incredible photography and ski sequences which literally caused my heart to skip a beat during every wipeout.
*** 1/2 out of ****