Sat | Oct 19, 2019

‘Sprinter’ goes for gold

Published:Monday | July 8, 2019 | 12:11 AMDamian Levy/Gleaner Writer
Writer and director, Storm Saulter, poses with a banner promoting his latest film, ‘Sprinter’.
Writer and director, Storm Saulter, poses with a banner promoting his latest film, ‘Sprinter’.

For many reviewers, talking about independent films is a bit of a struggle. Oftentimes, they aren’t as polished as your typical cinema fare. That’s the result of either a next-to-nothing budget, or the startling inexperience of the film-makers. Yet, despite their shortcomings, these films are the ones delivered with the utmost care. It’s a welcome break from a summer of mass-produced CGI (computer-generated imagery) extravaganzas, and sometimes, they’re just as impressive as their big blockbuster brothers. That’s definitely the case with Sprinter, a wildly successful award-winning effort from director Storm Saulter.

The movie follows the life of young high schooler, Akeem Sharpe. Jamaican. Teenager. Track star. He’s a young man of many labels, but he’s still not sure which one best describes him.

Journey of self-discovery

He’s on a bit of a journey of self-discovery when he suddenly beats the 200m high-school track record and is set off on a course for superstardom. With the help of his estranged brother – a former runner himself – and his unemployed father, who frequents the company of both Wray and his nephew, Akeem will have to discover what it means to be Akeem before it’s too late to turn back.

Though Sprinter is indeed an entertaining film, it is strikingly similar to things seen before. It has all the trappings of your typical sports film, complete with the snarling coach and the surprise visit from the real-life sports icon. In fact, the well-versed film fan won’t have a hard time coming up with the story beats before the movie does. However, just as Akeem figures out who he is, so, too, does the film. It manages to take a story told before and make it its very own with rich, storied characters that feel genuine and a location rife with culture.

When I think of Sprinter, I think of its beautiful cinematography. I think of the stories of its characters, who were relatable and compelling. I think of the music that never overstayed its welcome and gave the movie the momentum it needed at just the right moments. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s an entertaining, thoughtful, and thought-provoking one. One that ought to be seen on the big screen.

Rating: Big-Screen Watch