Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable feels just a bit too reverential


I hated myself for not liking Unstoppable greater than I did. It’s definitely not the fault of its topic, Bethany Hamilton, a 29-year-old professional surfer who not solely survived having her arm bitten off by a shark in 2003, however went proper again within the water, and began successful competitions towards two-armed opponents.

I additionally don’t wish to blame director Aaron Lieber, who not solely has a love of the game – he’s made two browsing docs previous to this one – however a transparent respect for Hamilton. However respect has a approach of tipping into hagiography, and that appears to be what’s occurred right here.

Every thing about Hamilton’s post-bite life is shot by means of with a rosy hue that may’t be fully because of the Hawaiian daylight. Her fellow surfers are a uniformly supportive, admiring, ego-less bunch, even when she snatches victory from them. She has a cherubic toddler who appears to be like like he went by means of hair and make-up earlier than every loving, completely framed household scene. Photographs of her post-natal coaching have the slick look of a company video.

One factor that comes by means of from the earliest (pre-bite) footage of her is that this can be a pushed lady. She was pushed to surf. After her miraculous return to the game, she was pushed to play the a part of the aspirational survivor the world clearly wished her to be. However there was a tiny voice at the back of my head asking: What if this polished manufacturing isn’t a movie about her being pushed to surf? What if it’s simply her being pushed to be filmed?

For one more take a look at Hamilton’s story you may watch 2011’s Soul Surfer, which forged a younger AnnaSophia Robb within the function of the religious Christian athlete. Truthfully, it’s not an awesome movie both, nevertheless it wears its feelings on its sleeve, and I knew the place I stood with its manipulative drama. By the point Unstoppable got here to the underwater marriage ceremony video of Hamilton and her husband, I wasn’t sure whether or not I used to be watching a doc or a business.