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Thursday, January 4, 2024

The Boys in the Boat 2023 * * * Stars


Last year I saw George Clooney's The Tender Bar. Now in 2024, I caught a showing of his new flick, The Boys in the Boat. George as a director, well he longs for the past, the wistful lightness of being. I mean just look at his directorial resume. That's right, ninety percent of his stuff takes place before the 1980s. The Boys in the Boat has to do with the University of Washington rowing crew and their trek to the 1936 Summer Olympics. It's old-fashioned, blithesome stuff I tell you.

At a running time of just over two hours, The Boys in the Boat is an epic sports journey, where nobodies gradually become somebodies and well, become Gold Medalists. Watching "Boat", I realized that this pic might be Clooney's Hoosiers, his underdog story to end all underdog stories. It's in the layers of development with the athletes, the way they had to beat other crews to reach the ultimate echelon, and the fact that their school wasn't the richest or uh, the biggest. 

Now is "Boat's" outcome all kinda predictable and feel-good formulaic? Somewhat. And does it not quite reach the emotional heights that Gene Hackman's 1986 vehicle did? Yeah, you could say that. Oh well. The propelling oar scenes (and there are many of them) have enough tension and agog to cause your heart to skip a beat. "Everyone else tires and they just get stronger". Indeed. 

Starring the likes of Callum Turner, Joel Edgerton, and Jack Mulhern, The Boys in the Boat is authentic and attested, putting the viewer in a time machine via the blow-softening period of The Great Depression. Clooney, well I've always liked the look of his films. With "Boat", he knows where to put the camera, he effectively shoots low to the ground, his visual palate is sunlit and nicely glossy, and he never seems to have to pander to lack of refinement to get his point across (hence the PG-13 rating). Strong "stern".  

Written by Jesse Burleson

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