The Short Game - film review (☆☆☆☆☆)

          The Short Game is a reality-documentary-competition film.  Five stars!  How's that possible and why do I think it?  Read on.

          It begins in the familiar way these things do:  catchy montage; authoritative deep male voice over; introduction of the child golfers, who will be filmed over a period of months as they prepare for, and then compete in, the world junior golf championship.

          The producers and director borrowed the template used in the golf show Big Break as well as Toddlers and Tiaras and many, many, other reality TV shows by spending a few minutes with each of the main competitors (three girls and five boys) on their home turf (two from Florida, one each from: Texas, California, France, South Africa, China, and the Philippines) introducing themselves and their families.  At this point we, the viewers, begin to make decisions about who we are going to like, dislike, and root for—based solely on snippets of conversation and/or actions captured by the film crew and, of course, by our preconceived biases.

          Very early in the film it becomes obvious that the cinematographer(s) and the music producer play a very important role in making this an extremely enjoyable film.  The transitions and the music montages are carefully done with attention to detail.  The editing is masterful.  

          I can't recall the last time I watched a film and recognized that the contributions of the "people behind the scenes" were not only important to the overall watching experience, but were THE REASON for liking the film.  You know when your heartstrings are being strummed; we all do.  In this film the documentary film makers, without a script, manipulate our emotions with music, editing, camera and microphone angles and omnipresence.  I laughed.  I cried.  I cheered.  I constantly muttered, "so mature for eight years old".  I became aware of my preconceived biases (which is something the director wanted me to do) and I came away wishing it were possible to peek into the lives of these child-people in a few years to see how hormones alter them (kind of an Up series with golf as the common denominator).       

          To really like this film, it will help if you already know something about and maybe even enjoy the game of golf...but it is not a requirement (any more than you had to know something about child beauty pageants to like Little Miss Sunshine.)  This film is available on download and DVD; I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

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