The Rocket: The Legend of Rocket Richard
Directed by Charles Binamé
Opens November 30
A fussily photographed Québécois prestige job remaking Invincible for the poutine crowd,
Rocket reminisces on the era of the homegrown, working-class, day-jobbing pro athlete. Maurice Richard spent the '42 to '60 seasons as the prolifically scoring right wing for the Montréal Canadiens; here, director Charles Binamé sorts out nearly 20 years of Richard's Habs career into benchmark athletic achievements and an obstacle course of adversities to overcome (he's deemed too fragile for professional hockey; he's a Francophone in what was then an English- speaking league). Richard is thus singled out as a key to the emergence of Quebecers' self-esteem, and Rocket is bookended by the 1955 Montreal riot that occurred after he was handed a season-ending suspension. As Richard, Roy Dupuis's tight-clutched performance easily holds down the screen, when he's not hooked by an inelegant script that leaks mythologizing flatusthere's a "little" voice-of-les-peoples barber who crops up to remind Richard that he's representing an entire province, for God's sake, while Michel Cusson's ever-gushing score erodes any remaining trace of tact. There's not much, finally, to lift this thing above its necessarily niche appeal, though hockey dudes should at least get off on the re-enacted goals and cameos by contemporary NHL stars (including Sean Avery, as Rangers enforcer Bob Dill, getting drilled).