“Race” (Focus)

Stephan James stars in a scene from the movie "Race." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/Focus Features)

By Catholic News Service

Olympic track and field legend Jesse Owens (Stephan James) is the focus of this entertaining film, chronicling Owens’ journey to the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, where he won four gold medals and, as an African American, single-handedly dealt a devastating blow to Nazism and its belief in Aryan supremacy.

Owens is discovered by his university coach (Jason Sudeikis), who recognizes his natural talent and proposes to train him for the 1936 Games. A U.S. boycott of the Olympics is narrowly averted when wicked Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels (Barnaby Metschurat) agrees to allow Jewish and black athletes to compete.

As his fame grows, so does the pressure on Owens to be a role model for African Americans. He also pines for his fiancee (Shanice Banton) back home, caring for their baby daughter.

Director Stephen Hopkins deftly explores the double meaning of the film’s title, chronicling Owens’ personal struggle against racism and bigotry while celebrating his astounding athletic achievements. What emerges is a valuable history lesson for adolescents as well as their parents, and an inspiring portrait of personal courage, determination, friendship, and tolerance.

Adult themes, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and occasional crude and profane language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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