Going for Gold
After watching this movie, I realized that it was not actually a theatrical release, nevertheless here is the review. I may endeavor to get one more review up today in order to maintain my stated goal of reviewing 17 theatrically released Olympic movies. However, for the time being here is the review…
The poster proclaims that today’s movie is “A new Chariots of Fire,” but it’s not. It tries to be. It wants to be. It just isn’t. That’s not to say that Going For Gold: The ’48 Games, isn’t a good movie. It is. But is it another Chariots of Fire?No. Not by a long shot. Produced by the BBC in the run-up to this years games in London, the film, released as Bert & Dickie in the UK, is the story of a the British double-sculs rowing team from the 1948 Olympics in London. There is also a secondary plot following the not insignificant efforts by the Games organizers to successfully host the world in a city still devastated in the aftermath of the second world war.
Matt Smith stars as Bert Bushnell a working-class rower known for his excellence in the single scull who is teamed-up with the aristocratic Richard “Dickie” Burnell (Sam Hoare) as a doubles crew a mere five weeks before the Olympic competition is to begin. The story is a fairly formulaic sports story as the two rowers from different segments of society at first butt-heads but then come to realize that they had more in common than they might have thought. The fathers of both rowers were world-class rowers who’s careers and subsequent lives have followed drastically different paths, thus shaping their relationships with their sons as they are pursuing their own Olympic dreams. The two father-son relationships are the most dramatic portions of the film, and both play-out nicely.
Although relegated to a sub-plot the portions of the film dedicated to watching the games organizers trying desperately to orchestrate a world-class event in a nation still dealing with wartime rationing was, to me, the most interesting portion of the film. Consisting primarily of a series of scenes in which two members of the organizing committee provide updates on their progress to the Prime Minister, these scenes provide humor and a real sense of overcoming adversity through determination and ingenuity. I honestly would sit down and watch another whole movie about the story behind these games, should someone ever produce one.
In the end, if this film’s goal was truly to be the next Chariots of Fire then it fails in that goal. Of course, few films ever released deserve that comparison. Judged strictly on its own. This is an entirely decent movie, telling a couple interesting stories about a remarkable period in Olympic history. It’s nothing particularly great, but it’s definitely worth seeing.