SXSW 2019 – Review: ANY ONE OF US Doesn’t Have Any Tricks To Show Off

any one of us

Any One of Us is a new documentary film directed by Fernando Villena. The movie tells the story of professional mountain biker Paul Basagoitia who, after a massive accident, is left paralyzed by a spinal cord injury and sets out on a long and difficult journey of recovery. It debuted at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

The story of the film is definitely very intriguing. Paralysis is obviously extremely terrifying, and this movie does a good job of using that terrifying nature to elicit sympathy from the audience for the story. The film also gets some approachability by focusing on it on a professional athlete who has many admirers. This also establishes stakes for the movie because Basagoitia’s injury is going to affect his life drastically.

However, the film fails to really reveal to us anything new about Basagoitia as a person. Of course, the focus is more on spinal cord injuries in general, with Basagoitia’s story being used as a detailed case study, but it would have helped the movie for him to be a more rounded and interesting character. If Basagoitia were developed more through the film, his story and therefore the message would have been made more compelling.

One of the main issues with the movie is that its pacing is weak. The beginning of the film hooks your interest by establishing the importance of this story for Basagoitia and everyone else facing a spinal cord injury. However, as the movie goes on, it starts to become more and more redundant. Even though the film is less than an hour and a half long, it feels like there were a handful of scenes that easily could have been cut out.

Another issue with the movie is that it doesn’t really explore Basagoitia’s career as a professional mountain biker. The film focuses on Basagoitia after his injury and really only incorporates sports for the purpose of showing how he got injured. Had the movie used more sports footage, it could have formed a greater connection between the audience and Basagoitia, and made the story more compelling as a result.

The film also features interviews with quite a few other victims of spinal cord injuries. This is the main reason you can tell that the movie is not a sports documentary, but a medical documentary containing hints of sports. The other interviewees are able to elicit audience sympathy because of their situation, but their stories still aren’t as interesting as Basagoitia’s. It’s hard to have that many developed subjects, so the film would have been better off sticking to Basagoitia and his inner circle.

That being said, the movie is very good on a technical level. Even though the interviews may not be the most well-selected, they are well-shot if a bit plain. The editing is also very good, especially in the sequence that incorporates the sports footage heavily. On the other hand, the film’s use of onscreen text and graphics is not particularly necessary or impressive.

Overall, Any One of Us was not a particularly great documentary. Although the subject is interesting, the movie is much less interesting because of the way in which it was executed.

Any One of Us debuted at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

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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