Saturday, December 26, 2015

Concussion (USA, 2015)

Nine Things About the Film Concussion

1. This is the most important - and dangerous - movie about American culture this year. There's a possibility that participation in America's most popular sport will drop because of this movie.

2. It tells the true story of how Dr. Bennett Omalu, a Pittsburgh forensic pathologist, stumbled onto evidence of brain damage in many NFL football players, which he ended up naming chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It also portrays the NFL's attempts to bury and discredit Omalu for seven years, until the evidence was so overwhelming they couldn't deny it anymore.

3. It was written and directed by Peter Landesman, who is an award-winning journalist (in 2004 he wrote an article about the child sex trade that led to many arrests). Landesman based the script off a 2009 GQ expose written by Jeanne Marie Laskas.

4. The movie comes out strongly against the way football is currently played. It makes bold statements, even suggesting that God doesn't want people playing football.

5. Landesman surely knows how incendiary this topic can be, and the script is very careful to focus a lot on the science behind Omalu's work. I was impressed with the way science is treated in this movie. I even learned things about autopsies.

6. Will Smith deserves a nomination for Best Actor of the year. It's sometimes hard to tell that it's actually him.

7. The movie is part biography, part medical investigation, and part conspiracy drama. It's hard to squeeze everything in. While his personal life is interesting, it unbalances the flow of things a little bit. Some scenes are kind of awkwardly placed.

8. The movie teaches you enough about CTE to make you realize that there's no real fix for it. It made me realize that the NFL's attempts to make changes (such as strengthening the "targeting rule") are clearly for show, and don't really do anything.

9. CTE is fairly well known now, but watching the 13-year process be condensed into one movie gives a new appreciation for what's going on. The movie also shows just how deep the corruption and conspiracy of the NFL's handling of the subject was, Whether you like football or not, this movie is an important critique of one of the defining elements of American culture.