9 April 2018 | jon.h.ochiai
Win it for you
If you're lucky as the kid growing up, you have that friend who inspired you to be greater. And if you're present at the time, you get the gift then. Before you're old and distinguish its value in retrospect. For me that was my friend John from high school. In Director Sean McNamara's "The Miracle Season" that soul is Caroline, played by Danika Yarosh, who inspired greater in Kelly, played by Erin Moriarty.
17 year-old Caroline or "Line" is the star volleyball setter for the Iowa State Champion High School Trojans. Line sees the strength within her best friend and teammate Kelly. Caroline sees the hero within Kelly that she has yet to discern. Along with their Coach Kathy "Bres" Bresnahan, the Trojans commit to win the 2nd consecutive State Title, something no other school had accomplished.
Spirited pretty Yarosh as Caroline is the radiant light who grants everyone friendship. Her Dad Ernie, played by William Hurt, is the surgeon and team mentor. Her Mother Ellyn, played by Jillian Fargey, suffers from terminal cancer. Caroline holds out hope that Mom will see her get married someday.
Caroline tragically dies in a traffic accident before the season starts. Her Dad and Kelly, along with the entire community are devastated. Initially, strong stoic Hunt as Bres dedicates along with the team to winning the State Championship for Caroline.
Sounds predictable or formulaic? Perhaps. However, unique poignancy emerges in the screenplay by David Aaron Cohan and Elissa Mastueda, whose story is based on real life Iowa high school volleyball star Caroline Found, who passed away in 2015. The movie is the homage to the Trojan's "Miracle Season" to the State Championships.
At times Cohan and Matsueda's narrative succumbs to wallowed sentimentality. Clumsy dialogue occurs especially in Coach Bres's inspirational sound bites. Perhaps, the mourning for the girls over Caroline's death indulges a tad, yet there is the sense of authentic loss. I think that authenticity of loss and looking at what someone's true legacy endears "The Miracle Season" even in its frailties.
Erin Moriarty is a star. She has understated strength and vulnerability as Kelly. She and Helen Hunt have savior chemistry and partnership. In the great scene Kelly quietly sets the volleyball up in air with her fingers, while Coach Bres closes her eyes and listens. She knows Kelly is the one. William Hurt is beautiful humanity as the grieving father, who like Line sees the greater within Kelly. "The Miracle Season" is about letting go.
So what is legacy? I've gotten that legacy shall be defined by others we touched in life. Yet, legacy can't be confined to the memory of the past. Legacy has value only when it is about those remaining moving forward and becoming greater. It's about regenerating the joy of those we love be it: making snow angels in the middle of nowhere.
Legacy is about others, them becoming greater than they know. Toward the end, Bres tells her players that she loves them, and couldn't be prouder. She says, "Win it for you!" "The Miracle Season" touches in reminding us that we honor someone's legacy in pursuing our own greater.