SXSW Film

Interviews and reviews

SXSW Film

Champions

D: David Wike; with Wike, Kevin Corrigan, Ebon Moss Bachrach, Xander Berkeley, Clea DuVall

Categorizing writer/director David Wike's debut feature, Champions, as one of SXSW's Emerging Visions serves it well. About three New York City denizens – Derek (Corrigan), Stan (Bachrach), and Russell (Wike) – experiencing quarter-to-midlife crises, the film follows the trio upstate and their efforts to reconnect with the Earth and themselves. Relationships develop and disintegrate while working on a small farm with Russell's enigmatic Uncle Doug (Berkeley) at the reins, leading the hired hands to hypothesize why and what they're planting. Champions is estimable in almost every category: The script is taut without being stifling, the characters charm without becoming caricatures, the cinematography is engaging without being mawkish. Not bad for a first-timer. However, Wike's vision is still emerging, as he wears his antecedents on his sleeve (Bottle Rocket seems an obvious touchstone). Nevertheless, in true film festival form, it's enjoyable to see an up-and-comer struggle and ultimately hit his stride in a medium littered with tripwires.

5:30pm, Alamo South Lamar

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