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Through his film, ‘Sprinter’, writer-director Storm Saulter is able to explore socio-economic issues. The coming of age indie drama centers around rising track star, Akeem Sharp’s (Dale Elliot) life in Jamaica.
Sharp is a young Jamaican teen whose family life quickly becomes conflicted. In search of a better life, Akeem’s mother, Donna (Lorraine Toussaint), leaves for America. Originally meant to stay for two years, Donna ends up overstaying her work visa. Eventually breaking her family apart. Akeem’s family is only able to communicate through skype, leaving them feeling distant from each other. Akeem feels alone, even while living in Jamaica with his older brother, Germaine (Kadeem Wilson), and his father Garfield (Dennis Titus).
Furthermore, this is largely due to their lifestyles. Elliot’s character works hard to become a track star. His motivation is to win a scholarship to a U.S. school and reunite with his mother. Though his brother, Germaine, is more focused on his scheming lifestyle. While their father, Garfield, constantly drinks in order to numb his pain. Despite each character being distant, they are connected by their love for each other.
Eventually, his brother grows jealous as Akeem gains more popularity and is deemed the “Rasta Rocket”. As a former track star, Germaine decides to offer Akeem advice. His brother shows Akeem the appeal of his get-rich-quick lifestyle. Which is filled with beautiful women and nice cars. Sharp attempts to follow his brother’s lifestyle until his career is threatened after a party is raided. After his parents announce their divorce and he suffers an injury, Sharp’s character becomes doubtful.
With the help of his teammate, Kerry (Shantol Jackson), and his coach (David Allen Grier), Sharp redeems himself. By mentally eliminating all competition and focusing on himself, Sharp is able to achieve his goal.
“Sprinter” explores the effects that family dynamics, immigration, and success can have on a young adult’s life. Although at times the film can be predictable. Specifically in the storyline, where Akeem’s character experiences a rise, fall, and then breakthrough. Still, the film has redeemable qualities. For Instance, each character is multi-faceted. According to Variety, Garfield is breaking down while trying to keep everything together, Donna’s sacrificial nature is damaging her relationship with Akeem, Germaine is protective but misguided. Each character offers another perspective.
Director Storm Saulter does an amazing job of creating the individual characters. Though the film has flashes of idealism, the primary setting being in Jamaica ties everything together. Saulter brings the audience back to reality when he discusses the separation of families, crime, substance abuse, and sex. According to KnockTurnal, “Sprinter is a beautiful and triumphant film”. Directed and executively produced by Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, “Sprinter challenges a young, but mature audience prioritizes one’s aspirations and familial relationships.”
Opinion News by Reginae Echols
Edited by Sheena Robertson
Rotten Tomatoes: Sprinter (2019)
Variety: Film Review: ‘Sprinter’
The KnockTurnal: Film Review: ‘Sprinter’
Featured Image Courtesy of Stephane DAMOUR’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Steve Dorsey’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License