Maurice Richard (The Rocket) Reviews
[font=Century Gothic]"The Rocket" is a compelling biopic that perfectly captures a bygone era when players had to be tougher to compete in the NHL.(This goes beyond the obvious lack of helmets.) According to the movie, Richard was particularly singled out because of his Frenchness but would start to attack this later in his career, becoming a focus for French Canadian nationalism. While I know we are meant to root for Richard in his struggles, it is also very hard to cheer against my beloved New York Rangers(yeah, yeah. I know. It is only a movie.), especially with ex-Ranger Sean Avery typecast as a bruiser. Maybe one day, he'll get a chance to play a romantic lead...[/font]
The film is about French speaking, Montreal, NHL player Maurice Richard (Roy Dupuis who is so damned stone faced I can't tell if he's a great or just god awful actor) who is widely regarded as the greatest player the league has ever seen due to the sheer amount of goals he scored and tremendous physical obstacles he over came through skilled skating. Richard was significantly smaller than the average hockey player and had a weak bone structure as well but he overcame all this as well as a prejudice the league had towards French speaking Canadian players to become one of the greats and blah, blah, blah. I'm sorry, it's great he overcame all this but this is about all of interest this story has to say and we've heard it all a million times before. The man has no troubles at home and indeed has an exceptionally loving and devoted wife Lucille (Julie Le Breton who goes through the motion of silent suffering athlete wife). He has minor disagreements with his hard ass coach the American Mr. Norchet (Michel Barrette who is equally uninspired) but nothing out of the ordinary in fact the coach seems stern but very supportive. Here the movie falls short as it shows the fact that Richard is really good at hockey is about the bulk of what it has to actually say.
Don't get me wrong there's plenty of subtext here and buried under all the hockey is a story of a minority over coming some deep rooted racism inherent in the NHL at the time but the lack of passion due to the movie's deep desire to get the facts straight makes it feel like nothing but Hockey. Now don't get me wrong the film captures in Charles Biname is capable hands the feeling of hockey exceptionally well and the stunts are so beautifully choreographed that while I know nothing of hockey or skating techniques I could appreciate that at least the Richard the film portrays here had some serious moves. Not only that but there are two moments of typical hockey gone bad violence that I really enjoyed and got a laugh out of the viewing audience I saw this with but I believe it's because it was a break from all the skating and talking. But still as a period piece the film is beautifully handled and makes me want to see more by the Director which saddens me this is his only widely released film and even this wasn't that widely released. There are a lot of brilliantly composed shots in here and the sets seem authentic enough which more than makes up for the lack of much to say and the lackluster ordinary performances.
I won't say this is a bad movie but it has some serious glaring flaws, such as its over zealous desire to be factually accurate making it at times incredibly uninteresting. I found the life of Maurice Richard to be ultimately fascinating but here a little too in depth which made the cheesy moments of triumph and the pretentious shout outs seem all the more glaring and annoying. At the end of the day a sports movie doesn't have to be about the best of the best to be an amazing genre defining film and this movie proves the inverse is also true. The movie will keep your interest all the way through and many times even entertain you but when you ultimately realize how little it has to say it will go as quickly as it came out of your memory. Still I imagine for hockey fans this is a must see particularly fans of Richard and for everyone else there are worse ways to spend your time.