We Are Marshall

by Jen on December 28, 2006

-Directed by: Joseph McGinty Nichol

Starring:
-Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, David Strathairn, Anthony Mackie

In what could easily be described as one of the most tragic events in amateur sports history, 75 members of the Marshall University football program were killed in a plane crash in 1970. Those who were left behind in the small community were forced to pick up the pieces and the dignity and unity with which they did so is the subject of this truly moving film.

Those who were left behind after the accident are left with questions, guilt, and grief over lost friends and colleagues. It makes sense to many to cancel the football program so the university and the community as a whole could recover. Yet, in the face of tragedy there were those who saw a different way.

Marshall player Nate Ruffin, who hadn’t been on the flight due to an injury, believes that the best way to honor his teammates is to carry on and keep the program alive. This belief is also shared by Wooster coach Jack Lengyel who believes he can help the program rebuild and with a little help begins to do just that with the gradual support of the community and the university along with a nation looking on with amazement and hope.

As I said in the beginning, this is a moving film but it’s not without its flaws. Matthew McConaughey is poorly cast in this film, and you wind up feeling like he’s not giving this story the real depth it deserves. This film called for someone with far more acting talent than he has, and in other regards it has exactly that. The rest of this cast delivers with such dignity and emotional presence that you can forgive McConaughey’s shortcomings.

The first performance of note is by Anthony Mackie who plays Nate Ruffin. You’ll probably think you’ve seen this guy before and you’d be right. What’s important though is that 2006 is when the world at large began to see him for the talent he truly is. He’s dynamic here, and you clearly see his desire to carry on and honor those who had perished. He does a lot of credit to this true story and was one of my favorites in the entire film.

Also notable were Oscar nominee David Strathairn and Lost star Matthew Fox. Both men bring their considerable talent to bear as they draw out the guilt, and pain that filled the Virginia community. I was especially impressed by Fox’s portrayal of Marshall coach Red Dawson. In recent interviews, Fox has said he was able to spend time with Dawson and you get the sense he wanted to do the man justice. He succeeds.

Overall, this movie will tug at your heartstrings but in a genuine sort of way that I found really enjoyable. While the performances weren’t perfect, We Are Marshall is a movie that is perfect in its desire to tell a story with dignity and do so in an entertaining and interesting way.

-Jenn Untch
Liberty, Missouri
jennuntch@yahoo.com
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous January 24, 2007 at 9:44 am

What you said about Matthew McConaughey is completely untrue. He was true to who the coach was/is. By far, this is his best preformance. For once, he isn’t “The Sexiest Man Alive,” he’s a real, true human acting in a superb way.

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