First off, we use the standard graduate school grading system on films, where A is the very top grade (there is no A+).
This film is based on a true story, which is always tough when the writers obviously want to respect the nature of the real-life events, this time involving life and death. The story arch is also complicated by the casting of former film stars, Helen Hudson and William Hurt – still great actors – in two of the supporting roles.
The problem with this last fact is that stars always get a big piece of the story line and that weakens the protagonist arch – and therefore weakens the drama. This is what happens here and even though the story is very moving at times and deals with the grief of the death of a loved one more than satisfactorily it doesn’t quite pull off the major character arch – a young girl trying to find herself as a leader on a championship volleyball team and an emerging woman, but without the help and support of her charismatic best friend.
Because of all of the above a lot of the main plot arch comes off as cliched and contrived. This is a real shame because the story actually occurred pretty close to how it is portrayed in the film!
Film is film, not documentary, and when telling a true story in a dramatic film the overriding rule always has to be ‘Story over facts.’ If you want to know the real stuff watch a documentary or read the book. This film may suffer because of the filmmaker’s integrity. Unfortunately, in trying to get the story just right and make it a tribute to the late Caroline Found the viewer loses some of the genuineness and intensity of the drama. Still, its worth viewing.