Monday, June 3, 2019

Lynch: A History - SIFF 2019 Documentary Review

The Documentary: Lynch: A History

The Director: David Shields

The Story: Lynch: A kaleidoscopic look at NFL star Marshawn Lynch and his use of silence as a form of protest and how his journey parallels the black experience in America.

The Review:
Here in Seattle, Marshawn Lynch is one of the biggest sports icons in Seattle history so, if you are going to make a documentary about the man, it needs to fit the unique style and persona he so carefully cultivated over the years of his career. The man is quiet, he is loud, he is controversial, he is understated, he is selfish, he is giving, he is powerfully destructive on the field, and off the field he has been one of the most caring and kind people you will ever find.

For his fourth documentary, director David Shields has taken every aspect of the man known as Beast Mode and pieced together a film that sheds light on who Marshawn is, what he stands for, and how he has lived his life as a black man in America. Shields expands his reach to show not only Marshawn's experience with the media, the people, the politics, and the culture, he also parallels the man's life with what the black experience in America has been since the formation of the country itself. Yes, going this route opens a lot of room for discussion, but using nothing but clips from television, film, and internet sources really allows the narrative to flow without getting too heavy handed.

I really loved how there was no overarching narration or any assemblage of talking heads brought in to spout off their opinions. This is the ultimate highlight reel that uses footage a lot of us have previously seen in various forms to weave in and out of the inner workings of a man who is far more complex than he ever let on during his career as a pro athlete. The entire time I was watching I couldn't help but marvel at how Shields was able to gather all of this footage and then piece it all together that tells a story filled with so many layers that not only speaks about the man but also a lot of the underlying issues that black people in America deal with every day.

If you're looking to hear from people who have lived the black experience, this film as pretty much everyone from Malcolm X and Barack Obama to LeBron James and Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith. Of course, there is a ton of Seahawks footage as well featuring action on the field and sound bytes from Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Michael Robinson, Matt Hasselbeck, and several others. When it comes to the game footage, there is a lot to like although, Seahawks fans, we do get to relive the 2014 Super Bowl loss so be prepared.

Lynch: A History is a wonderfully innovative journey through the life and mind of one of the NFL's greatest and most polarizing figures, a man who did everything he could to buck the system while also taking advantage of everything it had to offer. This documentary is so much more than a football career highlight reel and should be essential viewing for anyone who has ever wanted to look under the hoodie in hopes of catching a glimpse of the gratitude behind the Beast Mode brand and all the flashy attitude.

Lynch: A History is an official selection of the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival.

To see more reviews, interviews and festival coverage please go to:

TwoOhSix at SIFF 2019

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