Friday Night Lights


Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, Derek Luke
Director: Peter Berg
Certificate: US 2004, cert 12A, rt 113 mins,

Director Peter Berg goes down the authentic road in this study of a US American football coach (Thornton) out to motivate a team that must begin a new campaign without their dynamic first-choice skipper.

Based on a Buzz Bissinger novel, sports fans will follow the fortunes of the Permian Panthers, a Texas-based Odessa high school team led by their driven coach Gary Gaines (Thornton). Gaines often relies on The Lordís Prayer as a motivational technique, which is fortunate as heís going to have to rely on Divine help if he is to cope with an injury to a star player and still come out on top, but as if to prove that Berg wants the authentic approach, Friday Nights Lights also has us coping with the other day-to-day pressures on the Panther squad, to prove that winning and losing is truly a life-or-death issue.

There have been some good sports movies over the years, films that get to the heart of the motivational issues, and this one falls into that category. Originally destined to be directed by Alan Pakula (who has since died), Berg does a good job in providing his own take on the American Dream even if it is a little over-burdened with a focus on heroism.

Matt Arnoldi

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