out of Five
Running time: 86
Opens London Film Festival: 29th October
Enjoyable, well-made, documentary that tells a series of fascinating stories. This is by turns funny, moving and full of nail-biting suspense – one of the best films of the year.
Thanks in part to the huge success of Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine
, the last few years have seen several superb documentaries making their way to the big screen. Murderball is the latest documentary to be granted a theatrical release and the good news is that it’s more than worthy of standing alongside the big-hitters, as it’s one of the best films of the year.
The film introduces us to the world of quad rugby (or wheelchair rugby), a violent contact sport nicknamed murderball, in which players compete in armour-clad wheelchairs.
Directors Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro followed their subjects around for over two years and the film focuses on the intense rivalry between the Canadian and American teams in the run-up to the 2004 Paralympics in Sydney, whilst also filling in the background stories of some of the key players.
The film highlights some extremely moving stories. Most importantly, Murderball isn’t afraid to depict its characters in a less than flattering light, so we really get a good feel for what each of the individuals are like.
There are several highlights here, from the practical jokes the players inflict on their friends to their frank discussions about sex (and pulling techniques). In addition, the matches themselves are exhilarating to watch and the final face-off at the Sydney Paralympics is nail-bitingly tense.
In short, Murderball is an inspirational, thought-provoking and terrifically entertaining film that takes an important look at an often-ignored subculture. As such, it deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. Highly recommended.