Review: FROM CORE TO SUN Is An Inspiring But Weakly Structured Documentary

from core to sun mountain

From Core to Sun, directed by Oliver Garland, is a new Ecuadorian documentary telling the inspiring tale of an athlete who fights the odds in an attempt to become the first person from his country to ever earn a Guinness World Record by completing a half-marathon in both the deepest part of the world and the closest point to the sun.

There is no denying that what the subject of the film, Millán Ludeña, is trying to do is anything short of breathtaking. Even beyond the fact that what he is doing has never been done before (even to the point where Guinness didn’t have a record for one of his feats), it is simply an impressive feat showing his dedication and willpower.

Ludeña’s story is very inspiring because it shows how anything is accomplishable with hard work and perseverance. The movie begins by establishing Ludeña as a regular guy, going about his daily routine. It is his intense desire and passion that pushes him towards success, not a natural inclination or talent. Ludeña has to work to get what he wants, and we can all learn from him in this regard.

However, despite its inspiring messages, the story is not told in a way that is adequately compelling to hold your attention. It seems as if Garland got too caught up in telling the story from beginning to end rather than focusing on the more important parts of Ludeña’s journey. Perhaps this is due to safety reasons, but more time is spent on the training than the actual setting of the record. The reason most people will watch this movie is to see someone accomplishing an extraordinary feat, and they may be disappointed by how little of it they see.

from core to sun forest

Additionally, Ludeña isn’t fully developed as the subject of the film. Although we admire him for his character and his inspiring story, we aren’t really able to get a sense of him as a person. Unlike most other documentaries about successful athletes, this movie only provides a fleeting glimpse into Ludeña’s personal life and suffers as a result, since the audience is unable to connect with him on a personal level.

As a result, the film also misses some of the emotional beats which it hopes to hit. For example, one of the reasons why Ludeña sets out to do what he does is to bring honor and glory to his country. Patriotism is a very common emotion, so his motivations should easily resonate with most audiences, yet the filmmakers chose not to emphasize this aspect of Ludeña’s story.

On a technical level, the movie is mostly very good. The cinematography is impressive, containing some beautiful nature shots, even if they don’t quite match in quantity or quality to other similar recent sports-centered documentaries. The score is also very good, doing a solid job of complementing the uplifting tone of the film.

From Core to Sun is a solid documentary, but it is not revolutionary by any means. Ludeña’s story is magnificent, and perhaps deserving of a better and more well-paced movie, but is interesting enough to be worth watching regardless.

From Core to Sun is now available on VOD.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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