You know when someone says, “I don’t want your whole life story?” There’s a reason. Goalie focuses on the life of NHL goalie Terry Sawchuk, and whilst at times hits interesting elements, it struggles with a dull heaviness due to its decision to literally tell us his whole story.
Whilst never inconsistent, the film’s direction is very safe and by the numbers. It’s tough to tell if the issues of the film lie with directing, plot, or editing. The decision to frame most of the story in a documentary style format with random old gentlemen telling us how to feel about what we saw is jarring. It feels as though Adriana Maggs was scared that the audience wouldn’t get her intention and so she wanted to signpost us to how terrible the hockey league was. There is never enough time to watch the relationships of the characters develop, be it between teammates or with Sawchuk and his wife. We see only two scenes of them together before they’re engaged and then it flashes to their miserable married life? Likewise, the scenes in the childhood home lack any real emotion.
We see Sawchuk grow from a young innocent boy to a defeated, grizzled alcoholic goalie. The film spends a large portion of the start showing us his home life, his care for animals, and love for his brother. Dad is hard on him and mum gets by, but Mitch is his lifeline and idol. With scouts rumoured to be heading down to sign him, he suffers an untimely death. Flash forward and Terry himself is now signed to a hockey league. From there we see him win games, lose games, and be physically destroyed by the game. His relationships suffer, his health suffers, and he transforms into a different person before us. Unfortunately, there’s just too much. Following him from an 8 year old to his final days is exhausting and doesn’t allow for an in depth focus on his psyche at any point.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The cast does a fine job and gives what they can in scenes of emotional depth, but they’re not given enough to work with in the script and almost no character is given any development. Whilst the leads are all trying, there is no chemistry between them, so when he later makes the choice to cheat on his wife, it’s hard to care. (Ironically, the actors are married in real life!)
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The match and crowd scenes have a good amount of overpowering energy, but on the whole the score sticks to a safe and uninspiring pattern.
The makeup effects for the gruesome injuries of being a hockey goalie is one of the standouts of the film. It’s hard to look at Sawchuk in the match or locker scenes and not physically feel the pain of his bruises and injuries yourself. The film also manages to capture the era it’s set in nicely, with the period costume detailing never standing out, but setting the scene appropriately.
There’s nothing wrong with Goalie as a film, it’s just that there’s not much good about it either. The plot tries to do way too much, and the direction is far too safe to really say anything with the film. By rushing through his life, we’re never able to take in and process the big moments when they happen because we’re immediately on to the next scene. Had writer/director Maggs decided instead to focus on one key section of his tumultuous life, it likely would have been more powerful and engaging.