Saturday 24 November 2012

"First" (Guardian 23/11/12)

First (12A) 109 mins ***

The official film of the 2012 London Olympics is a mixed bag, inevitably compromised by the task of having to condense two weeks of extraordinary activity into less than two hours. If Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia was so 1936, First is very 2012, reducing specific events to filler in extended montages that seek to describe – usually in slo-mo, to the accompaniment of pseudo-inspirational pop – the next steps in what Cowell-speak dictates we call the “journeys” of its highlighted competitors. Director Caroline Rowland fares best whenever she forsakes vague uplift for detail: the look on swimmer Chad Le Clos’s face as he realises he’s beaten his hero Michael Phelps, the awestruck Laura Trott’s unlikely omnium victory [above]. Such moments seem to crystallise whole days of spectacle and achievement – and offer a stirring reminder, now the summer seems a distant dream, that yes, folks, this actually happened here. 

First is on release in selected cinemas, ahead of its DVD release this Monday.

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