McFarland USA Reviews
Costner plays Jim White, a football coach with a bad track record in previous coaching positions. Following this incident, he and his family move to McFarland, California: a rural, impoverished and primarily Hispanic community. He starts his new job as the assistant football coach, as well as taking up the life science/PE teacher position. It is clear from the start that White does not want to live in McFarland, and will accept a better job if the opportunity arises.
During PE class one day, Jim observes two Hispanic boys running laps. His daughter comments on how fast the boys run, and Jim notices the stamina that they possess. After continuing to watch them, he approaches the principal of the school requesting permission to start a cross-country team with these young men to compete in upcoming state championships.
Coach White does more than simply coach a cross-country team, however. He invests in the lives of the boys and provides them with greater opportunities that would not have been possible otherwise. He also learns humility and the value of hard work from the guys on his team, who spend their mornings working in their parents' fields from the crack of dawn until they go to school.
Costner does an excellent job in portraying the various struggles that Jim White endured to gain the trust of the guys on his team. Jim holds nothing back in guiding his team to excellence academically, athletically and as upstanding young men. The members of White's team, played by Carlos Pratts, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Sergio Avelar, Ramino Rodriguez and Hector Duran, are top notch as well.
The film shows the hardships that the boys and their families faced as Latino migrant workers during this time period. The town and a majority of its families are plagued with a seemingly endless generational cycle of poverty, and their work is comprised of grueling, long hours with minimal pay. The writing by Christopher Cleveland and direction by Niki Caro adequately display this struggle.
While the writing is solid, the film takes a little while to get going. The first 30 minutes of the movie leading up to White forming the cross-country team dragged on for me, however the information presented at the beginning is necessary build-up to the main plot, which is more than worth the wait. Overall, the direction by Caro is superb, and I am looking forward to seeing her future directorial work.
The cinematography in the film is commendable. Most of the locations where the competitions take place include rolling hills and lush countryside in addition to a few urban areas. The enormous hills at the last location the team competes at are stunning to view from a distance, and the camera-work in the movie captures its beauty effectively.
While "McFarland, USA" does not bring any original ideas to the table, the execution and effectiveness of the film is a pleasant surprise. Fans of Costner and sports movies alike will not be disappointed.
When we dont see where we are headed when others dont see it our way, we only have to see others way when we are brought to disciplinary action for our actions in what others dont see we fit in. When we see that we could only fit on with those who others dont fit in, we must relocate. When we make ourselves fit in when we see we don't fit in on somethings but other things when we revamp our position alittle to make others see potential they never saw before. What we don't see we cant seem to fit everything quite right when some hurdles are in the way. When we see that some journeys we travel are far but see that we need the right kind of body, mind and spirit to get us up greater obstacles we need a coach to get us in the right fitness to do so. When we see the greatest challenge is not the races we see but whether we are fit to face the world with similiar races in life to which we have to face. When we see being the coach we need to fit in like family with others to know how others live and see whether we are fit to raise their children handle other challenges outside their own challenges. When we see being fit for somethings doesnt mean we care fit for other things when we either dont have it as much as others. When we see some challenges we are fit for takes time when we need to make others see the potential what they couldnt see before. When we see some places are not fit for everyone when we have a responsibility to take care of our family away from danger to think relocating would be better. When the only thing that is not fit for someplaces is what negatively stares us in the eye when its an alternative reminder next to us of doing the wrong thing and the glance we give to those we dont give a chance that makes them not fit for a regular life and opportunties like regular people their age. When what makes us fit in is not how we look but how we see and treat one another as fellow citizens with rights that makes us fit to call ourselves Americans. When we see everything that we dont usually see done, we see that we are not fit to live beside those who make America Great in the first place when no other people could do it. When we only see how such cultures and people are fit to do such work when their lives are so vigorous and fast paced to only think that this is the only thing for them and we accept it. When we know not everyone is fit for everything but we make space for them so they could grow to fit in their surroundings rather then living like outsiders. When we dont see that we created a path for others to see that some journeys dont go in only direction but another direction that makes the next generations fit for what cones next.