National Champions

National Champions ★★★★½

Despite the fact that this story is entirely fictional—first a play, now a cinematic masterpiece—everything about this film feels like a true story. It starts with a more than plausible scenario and predicts the nature of the events that would likely follow. Each and every one of these events feels impeccably natural. It's an impressively patient yet well-paced tightrope of a storyline that leaves no stone unturned. It has enough football competence to assemble the details well, but the point always comes down to its razor-sharp social commentary. In addition to giving ample perspective to both sides of the story, this commentary stays level throughout and never exceeds what the premise warrants. The characters all feel like humans, not political stereotypes. There are one or two side stories that feel mildly cheesy, but they hardly detract from this strikingly poignant, meaty drama. Additionally, the music spectacularly enhances the tension.

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