It is interesting to me that family relationships are what hold us together, and at other times, they are what tear us apart. In my own life, what I have learned is that my relationship with my sister is one that keeps me together. We seem to always be closer to one another when one of us is going through a tougher time in life. It is as if we instinctively know that, in each other, we will find a safe, nonjudgmental place where we can bear our souls and rebuild our strength.
Cal Chetley (Devon Graye) is what most mothers would consider the perfect son. He is a bright, responsible, and sensitive boy despite the loss of his father to a car accident several years ago. With the loss of his father also came the loss of his older brother, Mike (John Cena), who blamed himself for his father’s death. Cal, feeling that relationship with his brother is missing, decides to join the wrestling team at school in an effort to reconnect with his brother, a wrestling legend. What he does not know is that his efforts may just bring his broken family back together.
Legendary is a story of family, and the importance family relationships, told through the guise of wrestling. It is a storytelling technique that has been used successfully in films such as The Blindside, Rudy, and Rocky. All films manage to hit home whether or not you are a fan or a newcomer to the sport in which they are encapsulated in. Why I am constantly amazed as I am hopelessly attempting to dry my eyes at the end of one of these so called “sports movies”, I am not quite sure. But here again, as the credits roll at the end of Legendary, I find myself drying the tears from my eyes.
Devon Graye is believable as both the scrawny kid who gets picked on at school, as well as the wrestling star that he transforms into. He manages to be both awkward and a bit of a school geek, while remaining strong in the idea of who he is. He reminds me a bit of a young Ron Howard. John Cena (Mike) is like a magnet when he is on screen; your eyes are drawn to his silent strength. Madeline Martin, who I have grown to love as Becca Moody on Californification, is Luli, an equally odd teen who is not afraid of her individuality. Martin has a sharp sense of comedic timing as she delivers her lines. Danny Glove as Harry “Red” Newman delivers strength in his character, despite his limited time on screen.
But it is Patricia Clarkson as Sharon, Cal’s mother, that manages to steal every scene. Her performance is unwavering and filled with raw, real emotion. She delivers a line to Mike, her eldest son, that keeps replaying in my mind. It is a scene where Sharron is trying to convey to Mike the significant role that he plays in Cal’s life “He is going to try to pull you out. Let him”. They are simple words, but delivered in a way that is so full of impact that they have not left me days later. I recently spoke with her co star from Cairo Time, Alexander Siddig, and feel he summed it up the best. “She is a secret…people want to keep her as a secret for themselves. She is one of the finest actresses in the world…” She truly is amazing to watch as she seems to easily transform herself into her character, truly walking in their shoes.
Writer John Posey delivers a solid and wonderfully written script that has been considered one of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays and was inspired by an incident that occurred in high school with his younger brother. Director Mel Damski (Psych, Happy Together) is the man who finally brings this story to life. Damski’s background in sports as a wrestler in both high school and college can defiantly be felt throughout the film. You can feel Damski’s understanding of the sport and the beauty that lies in it. He frames each match as a piece of art, paying constant attention to the symmetry of the shot. He takes us on a tour of the sport while keeping the story at the forefront and intact, allowing wrestling to become a beautiful and fluid backdrop for the film’s true story of family.
Legendary may not convert you into a hardcore fan of wrestling, but I can guarantee that it will bring tears to your eyes as you watch a family reunite.
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