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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Blue Crush (2002)



Reviews and Comments

Blue Crush is a rarity among surfing films -- sports films in general, in fact -- in that the characters have lives that extend outside the sport and ambitions that extend outside the film. It's refreshing to see characters on the screen that aren't mere slaves to the plot. Refreshing, too, to see a movie that has such a knack for capturing reality. It understands life beyond its primary subject matter; anyone who's ever been a chambermaid, for example, will find a healthy dose of reality here. Even the dialogue has the sense of realism to it: the characters, rather than taking turns exchanging lines, speak naturally, sometimes over each other, sometimes with off-handed comments that sound exactly right but must have looked strange on paper.

Most sports movies are fantasies, in which nice people train hard, overcome setbacks, and emerge the unlikely victors in a final competition. Beware Blue Crush, which loosely follows the familiar formula and does deal in cliches, but it deals with them realistically, effectively negating their status as cliches in the first place. Nobody ever does anything just because they're supposed to. Nothing ever happens that isn't earned. This is a story that one can truly believe happens every day, in some form or another. Maybe that's because the characters place more value on personal victories than external ones, which is another nod to realism.

Amidst all this true-to-life stuff is some pretty spectacular photography. I have no idea what a student of surfing films would think of it (I am not one), but I could have enjoyed Blue Crush based on just the visuals alone: there are some beautiful shots of waves, inside waves, and underneath waves -- and simpler moments, too, such as when a dip in calm water, clothes and all, is the most comforting place to be.