Story begins with Devers at her peak, an All American from UCLA so devoted to her sport that she even trains on her honeymoon. But Devers’ body soon begins to play tricks on her: She starts to lose her hair and her speed on the track, as well as the respect of her coach, who suspects that the newlywed Devers is merely slacking off. Indeed, coach Kersee — who in real life is married to, and coaches, the first lady of track, Jackie Joyner-Kersee — will haunt Devers throughout her mysterious illness, his reprimands persistently returning to her.
TX: TX:Filmed in Los Angeles by FSA Film Enterprises, in association with Logo Entertainment, for Showtime Entertainment. Executive producers, Louis Gossett Jr., Frederick Schneier; co-executive producers, Hillard Elkins, Dennis Considine; producer, Diane Schneier; co-producer, Bob Kersee; associate sports producers, Gail Devers, Kersee; director, Neema Barnette; writers, Dianne Houston, Scott Abbott; For months Devers struggles with the unknown, until she’s diagnosed with Graves’ disease, which is incurable but can be treated with radiation therapy, made more bearable by beta blockers. Yet despite the amount of pain she’s in, Devers, with her eye on the 1992 games in Barcelona, won’t take the medication because it’s banned by the Olympic Committee.
Increasingly frustrated with Devers’ disintegrating condition, as well as her refusal to numb the pain, her husband (Jeffrey Sams) leaves her. Having shunned offers of help from her parents as well as coach Kersee, Devers, who now looks more like an old woman than an Olympic athlete, finds herself bound to her home, doomed to watching track and field on television.
But when faced with the harrowing possibility of having both feet amputated, Devers allows Kersee back into her life, withstands treatment that compromises her immune system and begins training again.
Woodard demonstrates a strong spirit as the resolute Devers, her sinewy frame ideal for a world-class sprinter. Gossett (who also exec produces) delivers a typically solid performance as the no-nonsense coach baffled by his star’s seeming indifference toward running. But best scenes are between Gossett and Guillaume, who plays the Rev. Devers as a devoted father who puts his daughter’s health into God’s hands.
Standout camerawork from Edward J. Pei rounds out production, imbuing radiation therapy scenes with a terrifying subjectivity.
What “Run for the Dream” offers is a remarkably unsentimental portrayal of a true champion, one worth rooting for on and off the track.