Blink of an Eye, directed by Paul Taublieb, is a sports documentary that tells a well-known story in a way that makes it feel fresh in your mind. One of the most compelling films about auto racing to come out in years, this documentary is a must-see for anyone who is a fan of NASCAR or was in the early 2000’s.
This movie tells the story of NASCAR racer Michael Waltrip, particularly in relation to the 2001 Daytona 500, which altered the course of the sport forever due to the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. in the final lap. Pretty much anyone who is familiar with NASCAR knows this story, and there have been multiple documentaries covering it before, but never has the story been told via Waltrip’s perspective, making the film feel even more personal.
It certainly helps if you approach the movie aware of who the drivers featured in the story are. Waltrip and Earnhardt Sr. both had strong fan followings during their careers, and those fans are sure to enjoy getting to hear Waltrip’s retrospective on his career and this pivotal moment in his life. However, even if one is unfamiliar with who Waltrip is prior to viewing the documentary, the film does enough to make his story feel compelling and interesting to create a connection.
Audiences can learn quite a bit from Waltrip’s story because it is so unique. While he was experiencing the highest of highs, he was also about to experience one of if not the single most challenging obstacles he would face as a professional racer. Despite the adversity he faced in this regard, he went on to become a respected and successful driver and commentator. In this, we can see the impact his hard work and perseverance had on his success.
The movie does an excellent job of making NASCAR seem truly cinematic. Although the sport does have plenty of fans who watch it on television every week, watching recordings of races simply doesn’t create the same feeling as seeing a race in-person. That said, Taublieb presents only the highlights and exciting parts of the races, allowing the sport to seem more fast-paced than it often is.
Additionally, the editing in the film is quite unique and creative. Race footage is weaved in with interviews quite well, creating a story that is more seamless than most sports documentaries. There are some portions of the movies with montages that help increase the excitement factor of the film, but other scenes allow the audience to linger on the interview to feel the full emotional weight of what the interviewee is saying.
However, the movie doesn’t quite do justice to explaining the impact of the death of Earnhardt Sr. on the sport as a whole. Granted, the film is more about Waltrip’s experiences, and as such, the focus is on the emotional impact the crash had on him, but Earnhardt Sr.’s death also led to significant changes in the safety practices of the sport. This influence should have been acknowledged with more depth.
In many ways, Blink of an Eye is essential viewing for any fan of NASCAR. Regardless of whether or not you are familiar with the story at the core of the movie, this is a documentary that will be a compelling and emotional watch.
Blink of an Eye opens in theaters on September 6 and plays in theaters nationwide as a one-night event on September 12.