SCREENED AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL
a very fine smaller, female version of hoop dreams. it’s not the sweeping epic with amazing incisiveness and depth that hoop dreams is, but it tells a heartfelt story along the same lines and adds the caveat of an eccentric coach and a female team.
whereas hoop dreams was rich in cultural, social, racial and economic fodder, heart of the game is more a fly on the wall look at an eccentric girl’s high school coach (ressler) and the teams he coaches over the 6-7 years that the film covers. i think that this film is slightly more about the game than hoop dreams and that might turn off some viewers, but, really, this aspect of the film can be extrapolated to reveal things about life and society. the game sequences are more plentiful than they are in hoop dreams, but this drama is easily relatable because the games are often in the context of something larger like redemption, perseverance, or growth.
without getting too much into the minutiae of the film and its plot, lemme say that the film becomes as much a film about ressler’s star player (darnelia) as it is about ressler and his approach to the game. she is a willful, black, lower class student attending an upper class, predominately white school with an equally willful, focused and driven basketball coach. they are good foils for each other and it’s fun and compelling viewing to see their personalities at work.
don’t let the sports setting turn you off of this film. it really has something for everyone and is a well-done, heartfelt and provocative documentary. i enjoyed serrill’s hands off, maysles brothers-esque, fly-on-the-wall approach and i think it’s the best film of the festival so far. ludacris narrates.