CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 14 . . . . March 2, 2007
Cricket and the Meaning of Life.
Sanjay Talreja (Director & Writer). Gerry Flahive (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2006.
51 min., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 9105 201.
Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Cathy Vincent-Linderoos.
Cricket and the Meaning of Life is a celebratory "video-essay" on cricket and its many South Asian connections as experienced by the filmmaker as he encounters and follows a young cricket team from Toronto, Canada. Central to the story is their trip to play cricket in Trinidad & Tobago where Canada "meets its match."
Although it is observed to be unfortunate there are no white Canadians playing on the cricket team, I would point out that no South Asian Canadians are ever shown as participating in other sports, such as hockey or skiing. That might have made for an interesting direction in filming, and had the director done this, he might have presented a more convincing argument to try cricket. The filmmaker is grateful for the opportunity to travel with the club and see what is presented to and expected of their members. Certainly, the vivid photography of the film is one of its strengths.
Viewers learn that the filmmaker, himself, has many early memories of playing cricket in India where he was born, and the archival footage included shows both some of the history of the game in India and how this colonial game fit into his upbringing there.
The captain of the Canadian cricket team is a young Torontonian who expresses love both for his country of origin and his adoptive country, Canada. This young man looks out for the talented nine-year-old star who plays with them.
I didn't much care for the segments showing a Caribbean host who, always speaking alone, was given a great deal of attention. This fellow's contribution seemed somewhat contrived and even marginal to the main thread of the story. Though he was an animated character, I would rather have heard from some women on how they saw cricket in their family members' lives. In fact, I do not recall seeing many women in the video at all. The filmmaker, himself, was a thoughtful, well-spoken person whose comments were much more natural.
I liked the fact that the film did not dwell at length upon the many rules of cricket but instead tried to focus on the ethics of the game - engaging in fair play, trying your best, welcoming others to the game, and being a reliable teammate.
Who should see this film? If a teacher wanted to introduce the game of cricket to a physical education class, showing some of the film would be appropriate. It could also suit a geography unit such as Canada and The World. However, the immense visual wealth that is the world of Canadian sport has not been sourced for the video, and there was no apology made for leaving girls and women out of the picture.
This film was a 2004 winner in the NFB's Reel Diversity Competition for filmmakers from a visible minority.
Recommended with reservations.
Cathy Vincent-Linderoos, a retired teacher, lives in London, ON.
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