So I liked the story of Steelers more than I liked the presentation. The story of Steelers is about the first gay men’s rugby club, set up back in the 90s, now competing for the cup in the international gay rugby tournament. It has all the drama of a sports documentary, following the ups and downs of wins and losses, but also the personal stories of the coach, team captain and players, of discovering they were gay, coming out, and struggling to find a place where they could be their whole authentic selves.
Nic is the coach, pushing her team towards success, while being one of the only lesbian rugby coaches out there. Drew proves being a rugby captain is not incompatible with being a black fat drag queen. And Simon speaks very vulnerably about how, after experiencing rejection from friends after coming out, and descending into a deep depression, rugby has given him a lifeline, a home and community of support.
Now to the parts I don’t like. The director is a member of the Steelers, and should by rights be able to tell his story alongside his teammates. Yet by presenting his story in narration, and kinda interjecting his story in amongst the others, it kinda feels like its drawing the focus of documentary from its subject back to its filmmaker. Which is something that sets my teeth on edge. And it doesn’t help that it’s done in this really Tell rather than Show way. Like, some people’s stories he just relays in narration over footage of them playing, rather than interviewing that person and letting them speak for themselves. Also, in the opening scene, he tells us what the documentary is about, rather than let the documentary speak for itself, which it both ham-fistedly direct and mawkish, which actually detracts, rather than adds, to the emotion of the piece. In a lot of ways, I would have just have got rid of the narration all together.
The other thing I didn’t like was the musical score, which was overdone and melodramatic. However, conversely, that actual song picks for the soundtrack were really strong. So you could pivot from one scene that really worked to another that really didn’t. Never seen that kind on incongruence before.
All in all, a good film. A little rough in the execution, but compelling in the characters and story, heart-warming, with a good message.