McFarland, USA should be on your list of “must see” movies – that is if you want to see a movie that inspires you and makes you feel good about life. Director Niki Caro, who has a passion for utilizing local talent and truly capturing the spirit and heart of a community did exactly that. She accurately reflects the trials, tribulations, and joys of life in the Central Valley of California where the real McFarland exists.
When asked what attracted her to direct this movie, she said, “I was inspired, simple as that. Not only by Jim White and the original team and the scale of their achievement, and the legacy they left and the legacy that goes on, but I was really inspired by the people, by how hard they work, by the commitment to their families, their faith, their community. And it was great for me to be able to light that up. I get a big kick out of it, actually, working with real communities. And this is a real story, it really is. You drive to McFarland, you’ll see a bunch of people you see on screen. It’ll look like it does on screen. And that’s deeply satisfying to me to go in and tell a story that is not only meaningful, but is true and real, and tell it with the real people. And then if that weren’t enough, to go in with the likes of these people (Kevin Costner and the other members of this cast), this has been a deeply, deeply satisfying experience for me and I hope it will be for the audience, too.”
For Kevin Costner who spent part of his life growing up in the valley, he had a special connection to this story. Having played baseball in Visalia, even against McFarland High School, he knew people like the kids in the movie, but it wasn’t until this experience that it all came to light for him. “I’ve grown up in Ventura, and also in Visalia. And I’ve driven down these roads. And I saw people working in those fields. I played and fought and had friends where their families were pickers in Saticoy, California, a little Mexican barrio school that I went to. But again, I didn’t invest the way I did until Niki brought me this movie. And bending down to work and seeing a field go forever, understanding that this is forever, this is every week, this is every day in all kinds of weather, the appreciation of who these people are, this is as American story as you can possibly have.”
- For Kevin’s full and inspirational quote about the community of McFarland, click here.
Like last year’s entertaining Million Dollar Arm this movie is more about the triumph of the spirit and the way in which lives are changed than it is about sports. Niki Caro commented in our interview, “…the sport was probably the least attractive of all the attractive elements about this. But the idea that these guys, because of the way they lived their lives and who they are, and their circumstance, they are so strong physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, it makes them run. It makes them fly. And that was the idea that propelled me through this storytelling…” If you like the thrill of seeing a sports movie, you won’t be disappointed, but if you’ve never been big into sports movies you will find plenty in McFarland, USA to entertain and delight you.