Overcome: New Ball, New Mentality and Spirit of Resilience
By: Hooman Razavi
Overcome is a short film with a simple story, but one that is not too uncommon. John has Autism; he barely speaks. He suffers from episodic epilepsy type syndromes. Despite all this, Jon loves basketball, and he finds a niche to overcome difficulties in his life. Overcome written and directed by Thiabault Marsaudon narrates a slice of John's life. The 20-minutes long short film does not exaggerate characters, plot, and events but intends to portray and make us see how John views the world and if he and many others can get out of the mental box, get support, and get empowered.
On a thematic level, one can point to the question of exceptionality, suffering, friendship, companionship, family, and power of sport. Overshadowing all these themes is the spirit of humanity to overcome hardship. John is different from others. He finds it different to operate, bond, and live everyday life. Nevertheless, he persists and, with family and mentor support, gets back on his feet. The ending of the film may sound too sugar-coated, but the plot arc aptly leads to it. John is portrayed to suffer from a mental breakdown, theft, and lack of genuine ability to connect with those who care about him. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick's acting has all that signifies John's struggle and attempt to recover. Whether his parents and the court, the side actors display strong acting support that helps the film's overall storytelling success. The reference to sport and basketball could be cliché but what distinguishes it from more sentimental stories is that he finally passes his downstate through persistence in the game and fights. One may interpret the ending that Autistic youngsters with similar conditions to him may find solace in sport, but there is no blank cheque and easy solution for all. Some may be too marginalized, without the same class comfort and even access to basic recreational facilities.
On a technical level, the psychological and physical states that John goes through are depicted aptly too. In a few scenes, the blurry image depicts the challenging situations he was entrapped from John's perspective. In others, the same can be said of the deafening sound where either silence or a muted voice in his mind can be heard. The autistic condition of the main protagonist is depicted through these features. The camera is also very active. It follows him in the basketball court from close-up or near close-up positions and tracks the movements and agility. In other scenes, the same camera takes a distant static view of John, his struggle in situations outside the house, and solo in his bedroom.
The three-shot scenes with his family and mentors on the court add to the theme of support, mentorship, and friendship, all elements that he needs to regain his confidence and get up his feet.
Overcome may have a simplistic solution to a significant issue many autistic children and youngsters face. It may also seem too unrealistic for the main character to be so proficient in some skills and not others. However, acting, camera, and technical features helped to depict John's life's realistic case. He spent it half and half between the court and at home; he got support in each, and the two complemented each other. The film conveys this message that kids like John face issues that cannot be erased but can be overcome. Basketball and sport could be glue and supporting ground for them, taking notes for educators and filmmakers who want to portray marginalized characters' lives.