Soul Surfer | Indy Week

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Rated PG · 105 min. · 2011

Drama, Family

Director and writer Sean McNamara's film of the Bethany Hamilton story is the dramatic tale of a young surfer's recovery after her left arm was seized by a tiger shark. Weighty material, to be sure, but McNamara's interpretation of the events leading up to the attack and those following it are more disturbing than inspirational. Although there are idyllic scenes of a sun-scrubbed family of surfers who split their time between Jesus and big waves in a Maui paradise, the film turns into a fable linking the amputation to a soul-searching quest for God's life plans. The film's syrupy, faith-based platform loses appeal quickly as it proffers simple solutions about the saving grace of perseverance, faith and love. Of note, however, are punchy performances by Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid as Bethany's surf-rat parents who survive the film's shaky, sometimes cloying dialogue. An affirming moment of authenticity comes during the closing credits when we see footage of the real Bethany's recovery.
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Director: Sean McNamara
Writer: Michael Berk and Bethany Hamilton
Cast: Dennis Quaid, AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, Carrie Underwood, Craig T. Nelson, Kevin Sorbo, Jeremy Sumpter, Lorraine Nicholson, David Chokachi and Ross Thomas

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