Friday Night Lights ★★★★

I suppose my love of Friday Night Lights can be seen as an anomaly in my life. I'm not a sports fan and don't really care about football. I know the rules of the game and even played in high school. However, I think it says a lot (and shouldn't be a surprise) that the most enjoyment or excitement I got out of playing football in high school was when we would meet the next Monday for practice after a game to review film.

Having said that, for me Friday Night Lights transcends the sports movie genre by becoming about the characters, the community, and the pressures everyone faces to perform. The players aren't just treated as if they are professional athletes. They exist for older members of the community to live vicariously through because, as the movie points out several times over, playing football in high school in Odessa is the best experience many guys in the town will have in their entire lives.

And that is where my love of the movie comes in. This isn't so much a football movie as it is about kids who want so desperately to escape the town they live in. They've lived their entire lives working toward the chance to get a football scholarship or even to go pro. And when the hope of that happening comes crashing down on the most boisterous and obnoxious character, I still feel the pain of what that character goes through. Not because he missed his chance to get out of Odessa and make something of himself, per se. It's heartbreaking because playing football is literally the only thing that matters to him and, more importantly, the only thing he knows how to do.

For people who aren't fans of sports, the city of Odessa feels like it's out of The Twilight Zone. That's not meant to be a fault of the script. It's simply an observation about how deeply rooted high school football is in the culture of the town. This deep rooting makes the pressure on the teenagers so much bigger and more intimidating.

I can't post this review without calling out the absolutely stunning use of Explosions in the Sky's music in the movie. It's one of the best and most memorable uses of music I've heard in a movie. Their sound is so perfect for this story, it's nearly mind-blowing. I love it.