Monday, December 21, 2015

Concussion: Or Mr. Will Smith Goes to Washington

By José Alberto Hermosillo
 Poster design by Cold Open Copyright Sony Studios  
"Concussion" is a powerful biopic of a man of color who took the world of football by storm on an “Any Given Sunday.” It reflects the man's struggles and accomplishments flawlessly. 

Will Smith shines on the screen. The script of this heartfelt story was tailor-made for the actor to deliver an Oscar-worthy performance.
 Poster design by Cold Open Copyright Sony Studios
The life of the Nigerian immigrant, Dr. Bennet Omalu, goes to the big screen. The forensic specialist in the Science of Death discovered "the chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE," a traumatic brain injury better known as a concussion.
Copyright Sony Studios 2015
Dr. Omalu follows the paths of former NFL players who were considered untouchable Gods by fans and sports authorities. In his findings, he sees a constant worriment in those series of bizarre and tragic deaths, just because it was not customary to die at fifty active, rich, and famous.  

Omalu’s character is faithful to the truth and is not afraid to engage in an epic battle between David and Goliath. 

The football players were suffering from a progressive, degenerative brain disease, a trauma resulting from the constant bumps in the heads from playing America’s favorite sport known as football. 

Copyright Sony Studios 2015

The Nigerian character is a Doctor came from outside and who had the vision to understand the true nature of the sport without fanaticism or infatuation. He delivers a significant report using animals' skulls, a natural shock-absorbent protecting their brains from being damaged. For example, woodpeckers. It is something humans don’t have.
 Poster design by Cold Open Copyright Sony Studios
During Dr. Omalu's research, he makes some enemies, including the high NFL administrators and the FBI. 

With determination, he is risking all his savings to investigate the disease.

He also makes a few allies, including a supportive boss Dr. Cyril Wecht (Albert Brooks), and Dr. Julian Bailer (Alec Baldwin), who believes in Omalu's honesty. 

As a forensic, he is so immersed in his work with the dead bodies that his boss tells him: “You need a girlfriend and to touch someone alive.” 
 Copyright Sony Studios 2015

As an immigrant in America, the Doctor has the advantage of being an educated person, and that helps him sometimes open some doors to continue his studies. And some other times is a stigma working against him, even by people of his own.

Mr. Smith nails the Nigerian accent to perfection. It took him more than three months to master the English/Nigerian accent. 

The script of “Concussion” has some circumstances falling together too quickly, some additional sugar-coated dialogs that sacrifice the symbolism and the subtext, making the information in the speaking parts way too explicable.

Photo by Jose A. Hermosillo Copyright FestivalinLA 2015
The opening scene of “Concussion” was not impressive. A montage of the Doctor’s close-ups working with the microscope is more powerful and meaningful to introduce the story. 

Another reference is the Best Picture Oscar winner “A Beautiful Mind,” where we can see the character’s real struggle.

Photo by Jose Alberto Hermosillo Copyright © 2015 Festival in LA

Director Peter Landsman’s artistic background helped him illustrate progressive cinematography and perfect colors in the characters’ evolution, setting the emotional tones in the suitable mode. 

For example, while the Doctor is working in the morgue, everything is dark gray, and towards the end, when “Mr. Will Smith Goes to Washington” to speak to the committee, we can see the warm light at the tunnel's end. 

“Concussion” is a story of perseverance and struggle for tolerance and understanding. A drama with nationalistic rhetoric where all of us can relate, learn something valuable about football and the preservation of human nature.