×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto Film Review: ‘The Finishers’

This story of a father heroically joining a triathlon with his wheelchair-bound kid is shamelessly sentimental but tough to resist.

With:

Jacques Gamblin, Alexandra Lamy, Fabien Heraud, Sophie De Furst, Pablo Pauly, Xavier Mathieu. (French dialogue)

Shamelessly sentimental but tough to resist, “The Finishers” follows a differently abled teen and his dad in their efforts to train for and compete in a triathlon together, the father heroically pulling his wheelchair-bound kid while swimming, running and biking. Amazingly, the result goes the distance, thanks in large part to believable performances by the leads and vivid footage of the big race, shrewdly shot by director Nils Tavernier (son of Bertrand) at last year’s Ironman France competition in Nice. With Tavernier taking every imaginable opportunity for uplift, fans of inspirational sports drama, particularly Gallic ones, will be challenged not to cheer.

Blatant in the acknowledgment of his own inspiration, the director includes a scene of father and son sitting together to enjoy the final rounds of “Rocky.” As in that underdog Oscar winner, training sequences get the viewer’s blood pumping, even if the outcome of “The Finishers,” partly owing to its title, is never in doubt.

Living in the mountains outside Nice, a 17-year-old boy with congenital palsy, Julien Amblard (Jacques Gamblin), is adored by his hairdresser mom, Claire (Alexandra Lamy), who calls him “Pet,” and largely ignored by his brooding dad, Paul (Fabien Heraud), a well-fit former Ironman competitor who has lost his job performing maintenance on ski lifts and is drowning in self-pity. Employment woes aside, Paul seems not to know how to relate to his son, preferring to keep a distance that, over years, has become tragic.

Julien, moved by the story of a father-son triathlon team from the U.S., gets the idea that he and Paul should follow suit; the kid, bless his heart, is clearly less interested in the adventure per se than in using it as a way to connect with distant Dad. When Paul gruffly balks at the notion, Julien leaves home in protest, motoring his wheelchair down the highway until Dad comes to rescue him.

Awakened at long last to his cruel neglect of Julien, Paul eventually agrees to train with him. Claire initially feels that the race will be too dangerous, but soon enough, Mom is looking on approvingly as the kid uses the bathtub to practice shifting his weight.

From there, “The Finishers” follows a formulaic path to an obvious conclusion. But the film’s heart is hard to deny, and its tech credits, especially Laurent Machuel’s cinematography and Jean-Michel Simonet’s production design, are exceedingly handsome.

Toronto Film Review: 'The Finishers'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 9, 2013. Running time: 94 MIN. Original title: "L'epreuve d'une vie"

 

Production:

(Belgium-France) A Pathe (in France) release of a Nord-Ouest Films, Pathe Prods., Rhone Alpes Cinema production, in partnership with Artemis Prods., with the participation of Canal Plus, Cine Plus. (International sales: Pathe, Paris.) Produced by Philip Boeffard, Christophe Rossignon. Executive producer, Eve Francois Machuel.

Crew:

Directed by Nils Tavernier. Screenplay, Tavernier, Pierre Leyssieux, Laurent Bertoni. Camera (color, HD), Laurent Machuel; editor, Yann Malcor; music, Bardi Johannsson; production designer, Jean-Michel Simonet; sound (Dolby Digital), Pascal Jasmes.

With:

Jacques Gamblin, Alexandra Lamy, Fabien Heraud, Sophie De Furst, Pablo Pauly, Xavier Mathieu. (French dialogue)

More Film

  • First-Look Image Revealed for ‘Monday,’ Starring

    First-Look Image Revealed for ‘Monday,’ Starring ‘Captain America’s’ Sebastian Stan

    The first-look image from Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ “Monday,” starring Sebastian Stan – best known for “I, Tonya” and the “Captain America” movies – and “Colette’s” Denise Gough, has been released. Protagonist Pictures will launch international sales on the pic in Berlin. “Monday” follows the story of Mickey (Stan) and Chloe (Gough), two Americans in [...]

  • The Wedding

    Film Review: 'The Wedding'

    Two considerations need to exist side by side when discussing “The Wedding,” the debut feature of Egyptian-American multihyphenate Sam Abbas. One involves the film itself, a dull slice of Lower Manhattan mumblecore about a heterosexual New York couple fitfully planning their wedding until she discovers his gay dalliance. The other, getting the lion’s share of [...]

  • The Best Gifts For Film Buffs

    Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Gifts For Film Buffs

    Whether you know a film buff who needs to upgrade their collection, or you just want to upgrade your movie nights at home, here are eight gifts that will cast your favorite flicks in a whole new light. 1. Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema: The Criterion Collection Thirty-nine films from the legendary Swedish filmmaker are collected in [...]

  • Ansel Elgort The Great High School

    Film News Roundup: Ansel Elgort to Star in 'The Great High School Imposter'

    In today’s film news roundup, Ansel Elgort is going to high school, “Rockaway” gets a release, and “Suspiria” producer Bradley Fischer is honored. CASTING Ansel Elgort has come aboard to star in the drama “The Great High School Imposter” for Participant Media and Condé Nast Entertainment. More Reviews Film Review: 'The Wedding' Film Review: 'Malila: [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Oscars: Film Academy Narrows the List of Contenders in Nine Categories

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced shortlists of semi-finalists in nine separate categories. From here, the organization’s separate respective branches will vote to determine nominees, which will be announced along with all other Oscar categories next month. This year marks the first year since 1979 that shortlists have been revealed in [...]

  • Watch Skylar Grey Reenact 'Aquaman' Kiss

    Watch Skylar Grey Reenact 'Aquaman' Kiss Scene With Fiance

    The melody from “Everything I Need,” the song Skylar Grey penned for “Aquaman” is used in the scene — spoiler alert — in which the titular hero (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) kiss while an epic battle rages on around them. Grey and her fiance Elliott Taylor reenacted the kiss in a somewhat similar [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content