Review: Abled

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Title: Abled
MPA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Einar Thorsteinsson
Starring: Blake Leeper
Runtime: 1 hour 28 minutes

What it is: Abled is a documentary about paralympian Blake Leeper and his struggles for recognition as one of the best runners in the world despite his disability. The documentary, through very intimate interviews and documentation details Blake Leeper’s life over a three to four year span, showing his struggles with deliberate biases from the powers that be in the world of athletics.

What We Think:  Blake Leeper is a fighter. He is a man that goes through a lot and pushes himself to his utmost limits. Time and time again, he trains himself to not only be a top Paralympic athlete, but to compete to be in the Olympics amongst able-bodied competitors as well. He races time and time again, wins those races, and yet he still can’t catch a break. It’s a genuine shame he has had to put up with so much to be taken seriously as an Olympic worthy competitor. This film really shows some uglier sides to biases inherent in the world of Olympic sports.  If there is one thing this film really does is it makes you fully sympathize with Blake Leeper’s plight and story. He is one of the best runners in the world and he’s been kept out of his goals due to the fact that he has artificial legs. Despite science more or less being on his side to say that the legs don’t give him an unfair advantage, he is repeatedly kept from his goals time and time again throughout the course of this movie. It’s tragic and pretty upsetting. Blake himself is very likable and we get a real insight to how hard he works in pursuit of his dreams. We see the dedication and commitment so when anything negative happens in his struggle, you feel genuine disappointment.

As a film, this movie does a good job at showing Blake’s triumphs and failures and gets the job done of telling his story. If I do have a critique, some of the editing seemed a little questionable, however. Whenever city shots were used, it was somewhat hard to ignore the “shutter-stock’ watermark in the background. Not sure if that was a budgeting issue but it was distracting from the overall presentation whenever a city shot was used. Probably a nitpick on my part. Otherwise, this film was really solid.

Our Grade: A-, as a documentary, this did its job. It explained to me, in depth, a real life story and presented it in such a way that it made me care about the subject. Blake Leeper is a truly inspirational figure and it’s a shame that he had to go through so much. I think this film is very informative about its subject and hopefully things in regards to the standards of who qualifies as an Olympic athlete do change for the better.

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