Prefontaine is a bio-pic of long distance runner Steve Prefontaine that
is interesting, but never quite captures his essence. Jared Leto stars as Pre,
an unusual runner who suceeds more with sheer will than natural talent. Although
not built like a runner, and discouraged at every turn, he broke
and held every American distance record between 2000 and 10000 meters. The film
chronicles his college career under the tuteledge of coach Bill Bowerman (R. Lee Ermey),
his trip to the Munich Olympics, and his years afterward as an amateur athlete.
Director Steve James has shown his ability to handle a sports motif before
(with the acclaimed Hoop Dreams). However, in Prefontaine, he merely goes by
the book, drawing the traditional portrait of a doomed athlete and his unstoppable
drive to succeed. The story is told in pseudo-documentary style, with the
characters recalling Steve's career in interviews and flashback. But the
technique only serves to distance you from the story...there's never the
essential connection with Prefontaine neccessary to deeply involve you.
Jared Leto delivers a good performance as the runner, and
makes one wonder what he could have done with a richer storyline.
As it is, the by-the-numbers athlete story is interesting, but leaves no
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