By Aranyak Goswami


Film is the medium which often assumes a gruesome responsibility. It helps in telling stories that connects millions all over the globe in an entertaining manner often rather in a populist way. Among all major forces of creation like music, literature, painting dramatics on celluloid has the potential to influence the society in a significant manner transcending boundaries of language and nationality as it touches a person prolifically visually. Many directors across the globe thereby use this medium to tell a strong story that is needed to be told either to give broader leverage to any incident or to make people aware that some incidents of paramount importance have taken place some time back in history and people around the globe needs to pay heed to it.

The movie Concussion directed by Peter Landesman in every sense tries to strike a chord. It tries to tell the story of a single person’s momentous grit and desire to rise against an adversary so great and powerful that it had almost ruined his normal functioning in life for a cause where very few people were at his side to express solidarity. The movie brought into life the extra ordinary journey of a man against insurmountable odds and his conviction to stay rooted at his goal of saving precious American lives.

In the history of human civilization going have always been greatly difficult when a person rises against a powerful corporation. However noble the cause might seem if a momentous monetary incentive is associated with it in some manner or a global reputation is at stake than the crusade against the adversary is incredibly challenging and often singularly devastating. The beauty is the way in which you fight back. Often blinded acts of hedonistic determination results in total destruction of the person involved in the battle scarring him permanently for life. Hence the approach that you have to take is sort of a cautioned optimism with a surge controlled aggression aided by superior forces of intelligence and tact along with a dash of diplomatic panache and a certain figment of crafty negotiable reasoning that always helps us in advancing such delicate cause.

Right from the outset Concussion tries to be sincere in depicting the struggle of a Nigerian doctor Dr. Bennet Omalu an experienced and highly educated surgeon who specializes in forensic neuropathology. Based upon his tryst with autopsies of brain in troubled patients, he stumbled upon a significant finding that NFL players facing emotional and major mental challenges in their post athletic life is due to concussion they suffer from frequent head banging with each other during their active sports career. Collaborating with two other people he went on researching carefully examining more NFL players who were systematically committing suicides resulting from dysfunctional social life due to severe mental problems and ventured ahead to publish the results. Once the results of their findings were published all hell went loose due to the ensuing power and money game that followed. American football has a huge market and a proof of the fact that it can cause major harm to the players involved would mean a huge loss of finances and stalemate of the sports economy that would disturb the established dominance of football on a national scale.

In order to add to credence to any strong issue in films stellar performances are required which has been the backbone of the film. The performance of actors are escalated when they seriously feel for the issue they are depicting in the film. Apart from the need to tell stories that are important, the way it is told in the film is also pivotal for connection with the audience. The film has been able to successfully connect all the dots required for creating an inspiring experience. Careful analysis of the individual facets of this experience will help to substantiate finding:

Story – Based on the book Game Brain by Jeanne Marie Laskas the story adapted by director Peter Landesman has been able to sincerely portray the detriment and colossal opposition which the principal characters of the film have been able to emulate in their subsequent sincere efforts to showcase the crusade of a man against a monstrous adversary who left no stones unturned to disprove the sincere efforts made by the doctor Bennet Omalu helped by few other fellow doctors.

The degree of hostility and misunderstanding showed even by the community who had actually suffered to the greatest extent due to this onslaught encountered during their sporting days- the football players have been shown with great care and poise. The best part of the story was not to show the principal characters of the film in a black or white fashion but to show every character from a certain perspective or view point without being judgmental.

Direction – Creative people suffer often from the curse of talent. Often directors, obsessed by their ability to create something original and beautiful takes so much pain and effort to portray their true creative finesse that creative aesthetics involved comes to dominate over the story of their creations. However in this film the true protagonist has been compassion and uncompromising grit displayed by a person believing in a certain cause being ready to take any amount of inconvenience and trouble for it.

Acting – Acting is a collaborative process. The goal of any major successful acting enterprise is not to achieve any artistic crescendo where efforts are made to outplay each other. An acting performance that goes down in posterity is the one where actors cooperate with each other to take the narrative ahead without offending the gravity and sincerity of the issue to be depicted on screen.

In this film Will Smith as the protagonist Dr. Bennet Omalu the sincere earnest neurosurgeon ready to save troubled players from agony of physical and mental atrocities has indeed been the captain of the ship. However Alec Baldwin as Dr. Julian Bailes, Albert Brooks as Dr. Cyril Wecht, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Prema Mutiso, David Morse as Mike Webster along with other supporting actors have been able to maintain the earnestness , compassion for the affected in a benevolent heart touching manner.

Editing – Editing by William Goldenberg not only accentuates the drama but the coherence created by one scene spontaneously dissolving into the other generates picturesque imageries of emotion, restrain and serious resolve- the corner stone of the film.

Music and Background Score – Music and background by James Newton Howard helps in elevating the drama but definitely not among his best. However it succeeds in signifying the grave premise of the film- a David versus Goliath crusade for victory of human values and survival.

Cinematography – In present times whatever quality a film has in terms of acting or artistic vision- technical works like cinematography and special effects are always first rate thanks to the huge advancement of technology and able application of these revolutionary contrivances to visual medium. Cinematography by ace cinematographer Salvatore Totino has been exquisite in this respect. Frames captured with deft hands have helped in creating a visual splendor aesthetic yet controlled and minimalistic to avoid excessive melodramatization of the conceived objective.

Makeup and Costume Design – Make up by Pierce Austin and team and costume design by Dayna Pink has been such articulate and detailed that all the principal cast in their minor habits and nuances almost appeared as original men involved in the true incident.

Last words – Issue oriented films always suffer from an inherent difficulty, either they become too much somber, sordid or to keep a certain entertainment value to ensure a larger audience it becomes light and over glamorized. Especially when very big producer of the likes of Ridley Scott is associated with it. The film had a great risk to surrender seriousness and authenticity to lustrousity of glamour. However the film strikes an even ground. Though with the cast of big league Hollywood actors in prominent roles the film shows a sprinkling of starry polish yet it never interferes with the utter sincerity of the movie and battle for truth that exudes inspiration to countless people who in some parts of their lives are fighting against any form of injustice big small local or global.

The film is a must watch for all of us who value truth over capital, determination to do good against monstrous opponents with vested interests. The film has been successful to illustrate the unbeatable spirit of a person to champion a cause so close to humanity that it sticks against every opposition and overcomes each obstacle that comes across it ways.

Rating: 8/10



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