Directed By: Sean McNamara
Staring: AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid
Sassi\’s Star Rating: 3/5
Thirteen year old Bethany leads an enviable life in Kauai: surfing instead of school, creating a significant name for herself in the competitive circuit, and newly signed to a major sponsorship deal. Then the unthinkable happens.
Based on a true story Soul Surfer chronicles the inspirational journey of Bethany Hamilton; the young surfing champ whom lost her arm in a tragic shark attack in Hawaiian waters in 2003.
The film follows Bethany (AnnaSophia Robb) as she regains the courage to get back on the board and eventually the pro-circuit with the help of her family and friends.
Soul Surfer is a surprisingly upbeat film considering its subject matter. The lush Hawaiian surroundings are an idyllic backdrop for impressive surfing action; captured admirably by cinematographer John R. Leonetti. It also boats an extremely likeable cast with Helen Hunt and Denis Quaid putting in solid performances as the parents most teens would love to have. But most attractively Soul Surfer plays as an empowering teen sports flick instead of a woe-is-me sympathy tale. Sure McNamara airbrushes reality in refusing to let his lead wallow, but in doing so he creates an empowering female heroine that pays homage to the real Hamilton\’s achievements.
Soul Surfer relies heavily on its religious subplot (with country music sensation Carrie Underwood appearing as Bethany\’s faith leader) in a move which will certainly distance certain viewers. Nevertheless a sense of unwavering optimism and smart filmmaking keeps this film on its feet.
It may not be a five star biopic, but it\’s hard not to be attracted to Soul Surfer\’s enthusiasm and energy.
Soul Surfer is out on DVD now.
Category: Film & TV