Review: ‘Rollerboy’

"Strictly Roller Skating" would make an apt alternate title for "Rollerboy," an entertaining if overlong portrait of former world roller-skating champion Jayson Sutcliffe.

“Strictly Roller Skating” would make an apt alternate title for “Rollerboy,” an entertaining if overlong portrait of former world roller-skating champion Jayson Sutcliffe. Co-directed by Sutcliffe and Polly Watkins, docu recounts his life story from childhood in ’70s Melbourne suburbia to retirement in 2005, lingering a little too long on tangential details but offering plenty of crowdpleasing qualities when firmly focused on Sutcliffe’s career highs and lows. Though it will play better as a TV hour, fests still should take a look.

Virtually unknown even Down Under, the likable Sutcliffe broke the rules with his flamboyant moves, while channeling memories of sexual abuse by a former coach into motivation to reach the top. Leaning heavily on archival material filmed by dedicated friends and family, and featuring an impressive interview roster of skating luminaries including Tammy “Miss Spin” Bryant, the docu supplies engaging insight into a sport that’s flirted with attaining Olympic status but has never quite moved out of the margins. Inevitably kitschy at times but never camp, pic could have used some of the pizzazz from Sutcliffe’s routines to pep up its rather plain packaging. Tech work is fine.

Rollerboy

Australia

Production

A Circe Films production in association with Screen Australia. (International sales: Circe Films, Melbourne.) Produced by Beth Frey. Directed, written by Jayson Sutcliffe, Polly Watkins.

Crew

Camera (color, mini-DV, Super 8, Hi-8, VHS-to-DigiBeta), Sutcliffe, Colin Sutcliffe, Peter Zakharov; editor, Simon Wright; music, Lorenzo Castellarin. Reviewed at Sydney Film Festival (competing), June 15, 2011. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Jayson Sutcliffe, Tammy Bryant, Scott Cohen, Nick Bird, Beverly Sutcliffe, Colin Sutcliffe, Leanne Christie, Melissa George. (English, Italian, Spanish dialogue)

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