If you like American football and/or a good dramatic film, you’ll like this one. After all, it has a bit of drama and is about football. As Medge in Australia says, “Any film about sport will usually be successful because of the drama inherent in sport itself.”WARNING - In order to review this film and discuss its meaning, I have to reveal the ending. So . . . if you don't want to know what happens in the end, please don't read this until after you have seen the film.
Friday Night Lights is about the 1988 high school football season in Odessa, and the problems the team has preparing for the state championship. It shows the preparation for the season, the trials and tribulations of the players, and how they deal with losing.
The film shows the harshness of the townspeople and coaches in Odessa in placing the pressure and responsibility of winning the state championship on the young high school football players. It is as if the town can not imagine or even deal with the idea of losing the championship. For the Odessa fans, losing is something that just must not happen. All the prestige of the town and school are placed on the players and the film shows the kids feel this pressure. As one of the players says to his team mates, “I don’t feel seventeen.”
The film also shows the pressure put on the coach to win. The coach loses one game and the town puts “For Sale”signs on his lawn. The pressure is also exemplified by his daughter saying, “Do we have to move again?”
An example of the pressure being out of hand is the treatment Don Billingsey receives at the hands of his father, played by Tim McGraw. The father actually grabs Don’s hands and puts them around a football and then wraps the boy’s hands and the ball in duct tape.
The town and the school act as if the kids were in the NFL. Some of the players even have their names posted on a sign in front of their houses.
The movie shows us, I think without taking a stance, the hard realities of the college recruitment system. Boys play in high school – get recruited by a college to play football and are given a scholarship to that college. Of course, the players who want to play in the NFL hope to be recruited from college ball. The fate of Boobie Miles shows how callus the system is – a serious enough injury and you are out.
Tim McGraw’s performance was brilliant. I did not realize who the actor was until well into the film. – Tim Mcgraw doesn‘t play himself at all.
The football was understandable and realistic. However, I think fans would like to see a bit more of some of the individual plays.
The story was not 100% true, but fortunately the commentaries point out the truth from fiction.I recommend this film, based on the equally brilliant book.