Cult Classic: Friday Night Lights
We’re generally not big sports movie people in Ireland; well, American sports anyway. Those types of flicks just never really seem to travel particularly well. Friday Night Lights is a different kind of beast. Almost documentary-like in feel, it chronicles the pressure a bunch of young football players – and their coach – in a small Texas town are under to win every game.
By Mike Sheridan
It’s probably difficult for us to understand here how big a deal high school football is in some parts of America. In rural parts of the country there isn’t a whole lot going on; there aren’t enough big-name NHL, NFL, NBA or Major League baseball teams to go around, so invariably, the townsfolk get a little caught up in the younger teams when the players are doing well.
As Billy Bob Thornton’s coach points out in the final rousing speech, this is the last time most of them will play competitive football – at the ripe old age of 16 or 17.
While overall a damn well superb film, where it really shines is the less talky, intimate moments between the players/coach and their family members or significant others. The fact that they’re under vast amounts of pressure is a given, but to subtly see how it affects the families involved was a far trickier thing to pull off.
Friday Night Lights is a true story, written by the cousin of the director, Peter Berg. It was obviously a passion project for all involved and while a moderate success on its initial box-office run (at least domestically), the fact that an extremely popular, multiple award-winning TV series based around the same characters followed a couple of years after the film’s release speaks for itself.
Frankly, it’s one of the best sports movies ever made.
For more cult films, check out the Jameson Cult Film Club.