Friday, November 12, 2010

Review - Hamill

The true story of Matt Hamill, the first deaf American wrestler to win a National Collegiate Wrestling Championship.

"Hamill" is a triumph. The fact based drama is a illustration of the human spirit. It is a motivating and hypnotic chronicle of a profoundly deaf individual's journey to pursue a dream despite any opposition in his way. Going into the the movie I had never heard of Matt Hamill, but after watching, his story comes across as another perfect example of how strong the human spirit is. Ultimate dedication and passion no matter the difficulty.

What makes Hamill's story so touching is not so much the adversity he faced as a deaf American trying to become a wrestler, but the humble beginnings he comes from. The strong tradition and family ethics he was raised in. The profound influence his grandfather was. Matt's grandfather has a huge hand in shaping Matt's morality and the drama does a poignant job of carrying that message. Reversely Matt's hurdles in growing up are very important to the story and help to bring out a number of emotions that "Hamill" evokes.

As a biopic "Hamill" is extremely straightforward and seems to play out in a very paint by numbers manner. This film is not trying to fool anyone with story structure or editing. The movie moves swiftly through Hamill's young life into high school and up through college covering all the necessary ups and downs Matt faced. While the sports drama doesn't gain any points for its story structure it certainly doesn't lose any either. I didn't need to be awed by some cryptic style of story-telling and furthermore it was a nice change of pace to have a simple coming of age story that just went through the motions in chronological order.

Emotionally "Hamill" fires on all cylinders. Every up and down Matt faced I was right there with him. When he got pushed down I want to help him up, when he struggled to understand, I wanted to be there to guide him. Whether I'm a sucker or not I found this film to be an absolute crowd pleaser. Covering the spectrum of emotion and doing an able job in each department.

The cast of "Hamill" is tremendous. Nearly an entire group of unrecognizable names that all deliver polished performances on screen. One exemption is Raymond J. Barry, who plays Matt's grandfather Stanley, Barry is very recognizable but just like the rest of the cast he is spot on. Barry's scenes with Russell Harvard (who plays Matt Hamill) are exceptional. Perhaps the fact that growing up I was very close with my grandfather made these scene so enduring to me, but overall they have some of the essential heart to the core story "Hamill" is trying to weave and Barry and Harvard are unerring in them.

About Russell Harvard for a minute, kid has some talent. I certainly want to see more of him on screen. Harvard does a fabulous job conveying the displaced emotion Matt housed within himself. While Russell did look a little too old for Hamill's high school self, it wasn't too distracting or like I felt they needed another actor in the age transitions. As is their is already 3. A baby, then Matt as a grade schooler and finally Harvard who plays Matt from high school on. The younger version of Matt played by Theodore Conley while only briefly in the film also does a solid job of capturing Matt's handicap.

"Hamill" doesn't break the mold in biopics or present anything new, however it does deliver an uplifting story about an underdog that persevered against every hurdle that was put in front of him and never quit. It is a bold display of the human spirit and passion. It is a film that I think all sports fans can appreciate and one that will also pull in viewers that had not known about collegiate wrestling affecting them just as much.


oh my. thank you so much for this review. Russell and others brought it to my attention on Facebook recently... my world is the world of the Deaf as an outside-insider more or less; (am part of an invisible Deaf-Hearing family and now have Deaf-Hearing grandchildren and the tradition continues etccc.:) Cannot wait to see Hamill!

Hamill touched my heart and lifted my spirit.

Having played Hockey with a few deaf individuals, it was a real portrayal of the challenges they must face both on and off the field. The use of sound (sometimes no sound) in conjunction with captions was very creative and brought a sense of realism to the movie. If someone is looking for a movie to feel good as you leave the theater, this is one movie to watch.

Dave, you bring up a great point that I totally missed in my review, the sound. Epic use of silence in moments to bring the crowd into Matt's handicap. Such a powerful movie and story.