VENUS AND SERENA
(directed by Maiken Bird & Michelle Major, 2012)
*** (out of 5)
> Though not a big sports kinda guy, tennis was the only sport I was interested in enough to take lessons in when I was a kid, so I feel a special affinity for this fast-paced game of fluid grace and brute force. And in a world that is thirsty for good heroines, I couldn’t be happier that these two extraordinary sisters have reached the heights they’ve reached.
. They got there, in no small part, due to the conditioning, coercion and brainwashing of their relentlessly domineering father, who was determined from their earliest years to mold his two little girls into world-class athletes, driving them to a degree that suggests possible abuse. Theirs is a dramatic, compelling story of sibling rivalry, intense concentration, brutal training, the breaking of racial barriers, massive egos (with accompanying meltdowns), not to mention injury, illness, triumph and heartbreak. The story this film tells of these hyper-competitive superstars is so full of triumph and heartbreak, human drama and great tennis- how could such a film fail to fascinate?
. Yet somehow, we don’t feel that we get much of a look under their celebrity skins. The whole outing seems presented from their point of view, and one can feel the severe hand of their father at the helm, trying to present his daughters as a “brand”, manipulating behind the scenes to ensure that they are shown in the best possible light.
. For what it is, VENUS AND SERENA delivers. But somehow, I don’t feel their story has been fully told yet. Time will tell.
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