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Friday, April 6, 2018

Movie: "The Miracle Season"

TITLE: The Miracle Season
DIRECTOR: Sean McNamara
STARS: Helen Hunt, Erin Moriarty, William Hurt, Danika Yarosh
PRODUCER: LD Entertainment (Released Apr 6th, 2018)

Sports movies remain one of the most powerful ways to inspire people. This latest faith-based movie is no different. What makes it even more powerful and inspirational is that it is based on a true story of what a high school girls' volleyball team had to go through amid a tragedy.  Showing us the emotional highs and lows, viewers would be captivated by the sheer determination to succeed against all odds. Driven by a passionate reminder of a young life who gave her all, it inspired the whole team, the whole school, the whole town, and even the entire state to rise up and cheer. Even though Caroline was no longer with them, their memories of her and the dedication to her cause remain etched in their minds and hearts.

With award winning actress Helen Hunt anchoring the whole cast, not only was she a firm and tough force to glue the shaky volleyball team, her presence provided immense stability to the many younger and less experienced actors in the movie.

The Synopsis:
Iowa's West High School Girls Volleyball team had just won the 2010 State Volleyball Championship. Led by their star player, who was also the captain of the team, Caroline "Line" Found, the entire school had never been so energized as they look to repeat their feat in 2011. No school had ever done that before and West High was set to break that duck. Caroline was full of energy, full of love, and full of pure fun. She was able to lift up the sagging faces of discouragement with her pure joy and laughter. In short, she possesses boundless energies to galvanize anyone who knows her. Until a terrible road accident took her life and the rest of the movie focuses on how the whole family, the entire school, and especially the girls volleyball team led by Caroline's best friend, Kelley, rose from the ashes of discouragement to unimaginable heights. There are many themes we could draw and learn from. Here is a short list.

Themes in the Movie
(A) Role Models are important
After the death of Caroline, everyone were in shock. Nobody wanted to anything anymore, let alone play volleyball. The sense of loss was grievous and the girls didn't really know how to deal with it. Even Mr Found, the father of the late daughter had to deal with his own inexplicable anger. Coach Bresnahan (played by Helen Hunt) was instrumental in trying to keep the team together. Knowing that she alone could not achieve the needed team spirit and camaraderie, she looked to Kelley, the best friend of Caroline. Once Kelley established herself as a leader in person, the momentum started to mount. Session after session; game after game; inspiration after inspiration; tears were replaced by perspiration as the girls came together in sheer belief that the best way to honour the memory of Caroline was to do what Caroline loved to do: Play volleyball and win with gusto. Coach Bresnahan models steel and determination for Kelley; and Kelley models exemplary leadership for the rest of the team. Without these key players, there would be no miracle. Not to be minimized was the role of Dr Ernie Found, the father who in managing to accept the grief and the passing of his daughter, began to look forward and encouraged the girls that Caroline loved. These role modeling are key reasons for the jelling of the team.

(B) About Leadership
Leadership is about making tough decisions especially when all seems hopeless and lost. It means pushing oneself to the limit and more. Yet, even leaders or potential leaders fall emotionally and fail miserably. When the volleyball team was forced together to train and to play, it had to tolerate a string of losses. It is during such times that leaders become leaders through the crucible of fire. There is no substitute for the school of hard knocks. Caroline was a shining example of leadership. Her contagious smiles and overflowing joy made her a hard act to follow. Truth is, leadership is not about copying another person's character. It's about emulating it and letting it find our true selves, our sense of identity. Leaders help people find their sense of identity. In that sense, a lot of credit goes to the Coach, the renewed Dr Found, and an invigorated Kelley. Not to forget the pockets of inspiration from people around, from the sharing of food from the oven to the making of a T-shirt "Live Like Line," leaders lead a community and learn to be inspired by the community. It is never a one-way street but bidirectional. The volleyball team tends to be shy to step up to leadership, and it takes mature people to nudge appropriate people up front. What really strikes home is that leaders identify the gifts and skills of potential leaders, like how Coach looks for the best setter in the team.

(C) Faith Reflections
Compared to other faith films, this movie does not have too many explicit expressions of faith. There are moments in a Church during worship, prayer, and funeral service. Dr Found's good buddy is a friend from Church. What drives home a faith element is the shift of the mantra "Play for Line" or "Win for Line" to "Live like Line." Christians would find it relevant to relate to "Living for Jesus." After all, Jesus lived among us, loved us, and died for us. If memories of a human figure could galvanize the High School with such a powerful inspiration and response, what about Jesus for the whole world?

(D) Clean and Wholesome Movie
Unlike many Hollywood flicks, this movie is rather clean in terms of language. Even the accident was not shown, except the crash location. This is good as it spares any psychological trauma whenever negative images of blood and gory are shown. In terms of entertainment value, it is a high five, especially in the final few games including the state final. The "miracle" is for the team to win 15 games in a row in order to win State. Though it is a predictable plot, there is a feel good element that most people would be willing to experience it again. We all need inspiration from time to time and what a way to experience it.

(E) Final Thoughts
This is a great movie. Though made just in time before the school volleyball season for volleyball teams, players, and fans, the underlying story is essentially about life. We all need something to live for. When Caroline passed away, it is not just the death but the suddenness of it all. Death is something certain but the timing is largely uncertain. We are all affected in one way or another. Yet, this is a story of hope amid moments of despair. Not all teams could perform or react like West High. Not everyone could replicate victories. I thought about how the story would end if the team hadn't win State, or miss out a few of the last 15 games. Winning is important but living is far more important. It is fortunate that West High managed to do both. For a majority of people, whether we win or lose, we need to live, and learning to climb back up when we fall down is a life skill every one of us need, especially during crucial moments of our lives. If you happen to feel down, why not watch this movie? It's pure inspiration.

Website Resources:
  • Official website: www.miracleseason.movie
  • Trailer Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_QnPjvJsJ0&
  • Faith Films - www.faithfilms.ca
  • Twitter hashtag: #LiveLikeLine

Rating: 5 stars of 5


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