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True Blue Review

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★★★★★

Remember the Oxford University Boat Race Mutiny of 1987? No? Well, True Blue offers you the entire saga in minute detail, as it focuses on the event that rocked the rowing community. An underdog story to rival the sporting glories of Rocky.

The Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge has for generations been a symbol of the heritage both institutions represent. For years Oxford dominated the race, but then in 1986 came the great upset - Cambridge beat 'em. So what to do to reclaim the title? Simple, this fine upstanding sporting academic body decided to knobble the other side by bringing in a bunch of ringers, in the form of several American record holders. The only trouble is the Yanks don't agree with coach Dan Topolski (Leysen)'s winning methods; and pretty soon they don't agree with boat club president Donald McDonald (West). Then they fail to agree on who's going to sit where, and whether to quit or not. Then they do, leaving Topolski only six weeks to turn his B-team into winning oarsmen.

As inspiring as elements of this true life Chariots Of Fire in a boat are, Fairfax's film could do with some judicious trimming among the arguments of its central characters. They simply bicker for the best part of the movie, offering the audience far too many variations on what is essentially one idea - who will win?

Despite such shortcomings, the performances are uniformly good, with West impressing in particular, and the boat scenes themselves manage to capture both the hardship and the inspiration of the race.