The life of one of the greatest hockey goalies in history is depicted in this very tense-filled drama from director Adriana Maggs.
In 1947, Terry Sawchuk is a young goalie who was so impressive in the minor leagues that he meets “Trader” Jack Adams, the coach for the Detroit Red Wings. Adams recruits Sawchuck to be the goalie for the team and was so impressive that he would win Rookie of the Year and eventually lead the team to win three Stanley Cups. During the off-season, he meets bartender Pat Morey and takes a liking to her right away, despite the fact she despises athletes and only does the job because her dad owns the bar.
When Terry is ordered to lose weight during the 1951 season, Terry’s personality begins to change and it eventually begins to take its toll on his game as well as his personal life. The day Terry becomes a dad for the first time, he discovers that he’s been traded to the Boston Bruins. After returning early during recovery from an illness, Sawchuk finds himself at odds with not only everyone around him, but himself. After retiring early, things seem to be back in gear between Terry and his wife. However, when an opportunity arises for him to return to his old team, Terry returns and finds himself becoming more humble somewhat, that is until an incident is set to change his life forever.
The life of Canadian-born hockey legend Terry Sawchuk (1929-1970) has had its shares of ups and downs until his passing at the age of 40. Co-writer and director Adriana Maggs does a good job helming the film as there looks to be no sugarcoating the legacy of the titular goalie. Adapting her father’s book of poems about the legend and combining the biopic with interviews with those close to Sawchuk, this is one film that takes a true look at a legend.
Mark O’Brien is excellent in the role of Terry Sawchuk, a man whose greatest ally and enemy was basically himself. O’Brien shows the emotional range for the role, playing Sawchuk as one of the greatest goalies who endured and overcame so much both on and off the ice. From playing heavily injured to his personality changes after being forced to lose weight, we see Sawchuk as both a happy and angry man. O’Brien personifies the role to a tee and his chemistry with co-star Georgina Reilly (who plays Terry’s embittered wife Pat) is so natural because the two are actually married in real life and they play each other off very well, from their meeting at a local bar to their intense arguments which eventually led to Pat finally divorcing Terry a year before his death.
Kevin Pollak is quite the interesting figure in the role of Jack Adams. As the manager of the Detroit Red Wings, a team that has been there since the formation of the National Hockey League, Adams seems to take Sawchuk under his wing as more of a son/father relationship. That is, until being forced to lose weight by Adams causes Terry’s change in personality both on and off the ice. In a pivotal scene where Terry finds out he’s been traded, he finds it more as an act of betrayal and when he finally confronts him years later, Terry finally lets his feelings known after all this time. It’s clear that the combination of his changes stem from both his forced weight loss and this “betrayal”, which leads to a temporary downward spiral until he finds a sense of redemption when he decides to un-retire from the sport.
Goalie doesn’t sugarcoat the legacy of the late Terry Sawchuk, but rather brings a realistic look at the life of a man whose attempts to overcome anything in his way were sometimes futile, but brings him a sense of redemption until it was too late. One of the great recent biopics today that should be checked out.
WFG RATING: A-
Darkstar Pictures presents a Blue Ice Films production. Director: Adriana Maggs. Producer: Daniel Iron. Writers: Adriana Maggs and Jane Maggs; based on the collection “Night Work” by Randall Maggs. Cinematography: Jason Tan. Editing: Simone Smith.
Cast: Mark O’Brien, Kevin Pollak, Georgina Reilly, Eric Bruneau, Steve Byers, Ted Atherton, Janine Theriault, Owen Maggs, Matt Gordon, Jonny Harris, Aiden Glenn, Jamie Maczko, Billy MacLellan.