Reviewed by: Todd Patrick
|Featuring:||Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lawford, Bruce Greenwood, Diane Ladd, Paul Rodriguez|
“The World’s Fastest Indian” opened today in limited release (February 3, 2006). It’s too bad that this weekend, while the multiplexes are dominated by “Big Momma’s House 2” and “Underworld 2”, this brilliant little film will go largely unheard of and unseen. It’s heartwarming, life-affirming, relatively family-friendly (I’ll explain later) and shows an openness and camaraderie between strangers that is almost unheard of today.
“The World’s Fastest Indian” is the story of Burt Munro, a motorcycle enthusiast from Invercargill, New Zealand. Burt owns a 1920 Indian motorcycle, which he continues to modify over the years, leading to his breaking of the 1967 land-speed record for 61-cubic inch motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah at the age of 68.
This movie is charming in so many ways, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess the place to start would be with the man who makes Indian come alive on the screen: Sir Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins is one of the most gifted stage and screen actors working today. He has so developed his craft on such an intimate, personal level that he is just mesmerizing to watch.
Hopkins owns this movie. His charisma carries the film from start to finish. I found it very interesting that he chose this role. All actors have their own defined boundaries: the kind of roles they are suited for based on their looks, their personalities, and on how much they can alter their personality to suit the role requirements. Hopkins is known for playing mostly introverted, thoughtful characters of great depth like Titus Andronicus and C.S. Lewis. But with Indian, he surprises us with an entirely different side of himself. He plays Munro as a thoughtful, but completely open man. Slightly eccentric and totally trusting of the world and his place in it. He’s a charmer, and it’s hard not to be charmed by how he touches the lives of those around him, just by being interested in them.
Hopkins surrounds himself with topnotch actors to flesh out the film. Munro journeys from Invercargill all the way to Utah and meets a myriad of interesting, unique people; all of whom are masterfully brought to life by his supporting cast. Two standouts are his young neighbor Tom (Aaron Murphy) and Fernando, a Hollywood used-car salesman (Paul Rodriguez).
The cinematography and direction in Indian are wonderful. Roger Donaldson, who wrote and directed the film is unobtrusive and artful behind the camera and his script sparkles with wit and human emotion.
Indian, at its core, is about a man and his dream. Munro loves his Indian and speed, and he dedicates his life to getting the most out of his machine. Pushing it to its ultimate limits. But this idea actually takes the backseat to the real theme of the movie: human interaction and connection.
It’s about being a good neighbor. I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan as I watched this film. Everyone is Munro’s neighbor, wherever he goes. He is so kind to all the total strangers he meets. He’s humble, he’s authentic, and he’s unique. The strangest thing about the film was that Munro basically asks everyone he meets for some kind of help, but you get the feeling that HE’S really helping them, just by being present in the moment and responding deeply to each of them on an individual basis.
For families and younger viewers, however, I feel compelled to list the few offending parts so that you can make your own decision: there is almost no language, but there is (1) an instance of marijuana smoking, (2) two times where Munro sleeps with older, single women, and (3) a transvestite who works at a prostitution motel, whom Munro befriends.
I always make sure that I write my review of a movie before I look at any other reviews for it, but as I pulled up the internet movie database information for “The World’s Fastest Indian,” I caught a pop-up ad for the movie, featuring a quote from Roger Ebert: “One of the year’s most lovable movies.” I couldn’t agree more. I loved “…Indian.” It’s everything film entertainment should be. You cannot lose if you spend your money on this gem. Solid acting… solid directing… solid story. It gets my highest recommendation.
Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor