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February 9, 2001
Not all black and white
American football isn't merely a sport.
It's a religion.
It's everywhere, invoking passions and strong sentiments. Unfortunately, the same can be said about racism.
So, when the two combine in Remember the Titans, the result can only be thought provoking and engrossing.
The movie is based in Alexandria in 1971, where a local high school's passion for football makes way for racial integration and helps a town deflect communal tension.
Remember the Titans is based on a true story of the struggle surrounding a white high school team absorbing its first black players. To make matters worse, the head coach of the combined team is African-American Herman Boone (Denzel Washington). While coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) of the all white school is his subordinate.
In this volatile situation, Boone has to not only unite the racially mixed football team, but also win the matches and bring home the accolades in order to hold his position as head coach.
The chemistry between Washington and Patton is brilliant. Both do justice to their characters and are impressive in their respective roles. Patton, as the gentle and laidback assistant, is the perfect foil to Washington's hard nosed, no-nonsense persona.
The most riveting part of the film is the training, when Boone coaches his team. His boys learn much more than football tackles and defenses. They learn about respect and teamwork, irrespective of race. They learn about conquering and winning, be it battles on the field or off it.
In the first half-hour of the film, Yoast's five-year-old daughter may grate on the nerves because she has this uncanny knack of appearing in almost every scene. But she gets better as the film progresses.
Director Boaz Yakin uses a subtle play of emotions and extracts some great performances from his cast. Apart from Washington and Patton, Ryan Hurst, Wood Harris, Donald Faison, Kip Pardue and Ethan Suplee do a fine job of portraying the football team members.
The movie brings out racial discrimination and integration in a way that is poignant, but not depressingly so.
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