Skid Row Marathon review – runners on the road to redemption | Film

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If watching – even participating – in the London Marathon last month didn’t provide you with enough imagery of people pounding the streets in trainers and accompanying stories of inspiration, this is the movie for you. Undeniably uplifting, even if the string-laden score strains too hard to tweak the tear ducts, this US-made documentary tracks a running group of recovering addicts and paroled convicts who train for marathons together.

Their square-jawed, sinewy leader is Craig Mitchell, a fiercely principled Los Angeles-based lawman who has sent many people to prison over the course of his career, first as a prosecutor and later as a judge. When a defendant whom Mitchell sent to prison contacted him after his release and asked to meet the judge at the Midnight Mission homeless shelter where he was living, Mitchell felt moved to start a club to help other homeless people and those striving to go straight to discover a new, healthier addiction in running.

Skidrow trailer

Likable though Mitchell is, the film would be a duller work if director Mark Hayes had chosen to focus entirely on this virtuous volunteer. Thankfully, the other runners featured here form a compelling cast of characters whose stories have more pronounced arcs. David Askew and Ben Shirley, for instance. Both were men with talents who ended up on the streets because of drink and drug addictions, but by the end of the film their lives have been turned around, one of them finding a new passion in painting, while the other inches towards recovery by rediscovering his love of music.

Single mother Rebecca Hayes’s backstory is not dissimilar, but her struggle to find meaningful work illustrates the challenges of re-entering the job market for people with big gaps in their employment histories. Paradoxically, the most striking story is that of Rafael Cabrera, a quiet, dignified chap with a natural touch with kids, who did 28 years in prison for murder. Fluent cinematography adds a dynamic edge throughout.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Skid Row Marathon review – runners on the road to redemption | Film

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