So late last night, approaching midnight in fact, I couldn't sleep. My wife was at work, the kids were in bed. Not knowing what else to do, I started browsing Netflix, and ran across this movie, Backwards. Not sure what it was that drew me in, but I clicked, and I watched.
The movie opens with Abi Brooks, played by Sarah Megan Thomas (who also wrote and produced the film!) in the midst of hard core training for the US Olympic Rowing team. It's not a spoiler to let you know that she doesn't end up on the team. She limps home with her tail between her legs, (well to home to her mom's house anyway), and spends some time wallowing in self pity. When her mother (Margaret Colin) gives her an ultimatum to snap her back to reality, Abi ends up with the girl's crew coaching job at her old high school alma mater. It's serendipitous that this position is open--after all she is a small celebrity at the school given her athletic exploits as a student. Only the fact that her high school sweetheart Geoff, (played by James Van Der Beek), is now the Athletic Director and her new boss is more coincidental. I think you can see where this is all going. Don't let me spoil it for you, but romance, drama, and feel-good life-lessons ensue.
This isn't a fantastic movie. As you can tell from the short synopsis above, it's awfully contrived. And it's blatantly predictable. It's also full of underdeveloped characters, and a myriad of plot lines sprout up, only to be resolved within a scene. The movie's star (and writer and producer) is a terrible actress. Research reveals that she does actually have some rowing experience in her background and it shows--to the detriment of the movie. She revels in banging the viewer over the head with the fact that she knows her subject, and it actually comes off as clunky and trite. The supporting cast is really the saving grace in the acting department--Van Der Beek and Colin are excellent. Even more refreshing are the real-life student athletes cast as the high school rowing team members.
However, with all it's contrived predictability, all it's poor writing and acting, I sure did watch the whole dang thing. And I was rooting for the HS girls rowing team. And yes, even for Abi and Geoff to end up together.
So, if you're looking for a well written, well acted, thought provoking film...well, keep looking. But in the end this wasn't a total waste of an hour and half, and I enjoyed it. Even if I don't know why.