Thursday, January 26, 2006
Finally saw the above documentary about the hardcore life of wheelchair rugby players. They sure are angry, these guys. They hold grudges, they snap at loved ones, they cry when they lose. Your natural assumption is that they are angry because they are in wheelchairs. I think I came to believe, though, that these just happen to be angry guys who happened to be in wheelchairs.
They’re not all that way, of course, but the movie seems to focus on the ones that are—Joe, the former mvp who “defects” to the Canadian team when he gets cut, lives for wheelchair rugby the way I used to live for IU basketball: even when they’re playing, he’s too stressed out to enjoy himself or be in the moment. At home, he’s a jerk to his kid and comes across as distant to his wife. Out to dinner with her for their anniversary, for example, she makes a toast to them and he toasts back “to the Canadian team.”
I would have liked to see some other things developed more here. As a biker gearhead, I would have loved to hear them talk about the gladiator style chairs they use in the matches; I wonder if they would express similar affection for their rides just like when cyclists talk about their new bikes. There were some other things I missed, too, but I can’t remember them right now.
My favorite scenes were with the former motocross racer who was just learning how to get used to his wheelchair and then learns about murderball. He gets into one of the armored chairs, loaned to him by one of the featured guys, and you see a change come over him. For the first time since he was paralyzed, you can see that he’s not thinking about limitations, but possibilities. It’s actually pretty moving.
I also have to say that wheelchairs didn’t keep these guys from landing some pretty wonderful girlfriends. It’s funny how you don’t feel sorry for any of them at the end of this movie—or at least not as sorry as you think you might. That’s probably the whole point.