Compelling, flawed and tricky. tricky. tricky.
With incredible access to Kevin Pearce, his family and friends and their archive footage of his brief extreme sports career, Lucy Walker has assembled a compelling documentary about the teenage snowboarding champion and potential Olympian, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a serious crash during training in 2009.
On the surface The Crash Reel is about snowboarding, but in tackling a mountain of information this ambitious documentary goes much deeper. It’s a diverse and varied narrative, told in a stream of consciousness style that flits freely from one subject to another, but lacks any solid grounding. It starts impressively by chronicling Pearce’s rise to fame as a professional snowboarder and his rivalry with Shaun White, but loses steam when it depicts his recovery and attempted comeback and by the time it shifts focus again to spread awareness about the dangers of extreme sports its impact is exhausted.
Walker successfully negotiates the inconsistency and, though none of them are explored in any great depth, each of the loosely connected themes carries enough substance to ensure a degree of emotional impact is maintained. Through her ability to capture the drama in every scene Walker is able to conclude her film with a touching and poignant exploration of accepting who you are.
In failing to match its lofty ambition The Crash Reel is something of a disappointment, but with an intriguing story, vibrant visuals and great soundtrack it is a worthy documentary all the same.
The Crash Reel is available to Sky customers on Sky Atlantic via On Demand