Annabeth Barnes, one of the three tweener go-kart racers Marshall Curry follows throughout Racing Dreams, believes God gave her the talent to race. Weaving in and out of every turn and around the track at lightning speed, she faces danger at every turn, which presents a problem for her supportive mother. But the sport is in the family’s blood, so as a brood they keep racing, looking past the sport’s imposing dangers with that one goal in mind: competing in a genuine Nascar race one day. Annabeth is not alone in this mindset, as both Brandon Warren and Joshua Hobson, the other two racers profiled, aspire for greatness on the roadway as well. Curry distinctly illuminates the clear social and economic differences between the kids, revealing a sport only bred for the fortunate.
The eldest of the three, Brandon, has a story so devastating and lurid an entire film could be made about him; one scene in particular captures his evasive, deadbeat dad walking through the living room of his grandfathers house (where Brandon lives), essentially making some sort of shady deal, possibly involving drugs, and Brandon & Co. watch from the kitchen as a clutching silence takes a hold. These looming, roaming moments are sprinkled throughout Racing Dreams, complementing the lively, fist-pumping racing action with a taste of the very real circumstances surrounding these kids’ lives. Digesting over 500 hours of footage, Curry has expertly stitched together a 90-minute triumph in crowd-pleasing, wholesome entertainment, finely showcasing the intricacies of the sport (for all the Nascar die-hards) as well as intimately dissecting the tumultuous, blossoming lives of these three highly impressionable yet precocious racers. Falling in line with past rousing kid-themed docs like Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom, Racing Dreams qualifies as the next-in-line, potential-sleeper hit of the summer.
Racing Dreams @ the Tribeca Film Festival
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.