(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A star college football player and an exotic dancer want to have a strong sexual relationship, but the football player is sexually dysfunctional and frustrated. This is a very unusual film that centers on the player's problem and his dealings with doctors in trying to fix the problem. Even on the art house film circuit this would be an unconventional film. The topic is almost better suited to documentary than to narrative style. Mike Reilly writes, directs, co-produces, and stars. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

I frequently start my reviews with a qualification that the film is a subject that I either have strong opinions on that I have little interest in. ROAD TO VICTORY is really about (at least) two subjects. One is the physical and psychological demands of being a star football player and the other is the effects of dysfunction on a sexual relationship. I come to the film with very little interest in either subject and I left the film with very little interest in either subject. That is just me, but recognize that the viewers' mileage may vary a great deal.

Elliot Bayser (Reilly) is a very promising college football player soon to go to professional football. He has been injured a few too many times and that may be contributing to his current difficulty. Apparently he has a humiliating problem with his sexual performance as the story begins. At a lecture on dysfunction he meets Anna. Anna is also a student at the same fictional West Coast school and in her spare time she also is a stripper at a local club. They two are quickly drawn to each other and Anna really wants sex, but Elliot finds he is unable to perform in bed. Both want to be together and even to have children together, but it becomes increasingly evident that Elliot will not be able to fulfill his first requirement in the process. ROAD TO VICTORY is unorthodox with its very clinical discussions of the physical and psychological causes and effects of sexual impotence. In particular it discusses the interrelation of impotence with violent contact sports like football. It is suggested by one doctor that the problem is the use of steroids. It seemed inevitably that sooner or later that would be one explanation. But Elliot refuses to either confirm or deny that he has ever used steroids. We see in his memories that he has received injections and that fact is even important to him, but we do not know the contents of that syringe. Other explanations are given, but the actual causes of the problem remain unclear throughout. In the end Elliot will have to decide what his values really are.

The issues of this film are broader than just whether football is harmful to sexual health. There are issues of how the medical community treats athletes and patients in general. There are problems inherent in the system including those of procedures and problems of values. The situation is explained by a slightly too convenient good-guy doctor who is willing to take a global view of the changing procedures of the medical profession and in particular its use and reliance on drugs.

In his first feature film Mike Reilly seems to run the whole show. He is co-producer, writer, director and he plays the main character. As with any "first film" there are several rough edges. The viewer can tell this is an independent film with minor problems that a major studio film would not allow. One problem may have been a trick of the lighting, but it is something of a distraction. As Elliot speaks to Anna from behind the wheel of a car, his eyes appear to be very different colors. One appears green and one appears brown. I suppose a studio film would have seen the problem and would digitally correct it. I am sure the budget here did not allow for that. The film does show some subtlety. The film very explicitly tells us that there is sex going on somewhere near the camera, but the film is shot without nudity. The dialog is very graphic and explicit, the photography is not at all.

This film is very independent even for an independent film. It will have a very selective appeal and to be candid I would not have recommended the film to a viewer like myself. But it does tackle some weighty issues frankly in ways that are startlingly different from anything I have seen in a film before. The reach of this film goes beyond addressing itself to one couple or even something as broad as the whole field of sports medicine. It really addresses our entire national health policy. It is a film of some accomplishment and one that shows promise. I would rate it a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. It should be noted also that the film has been picking up prizes at some international film festivals.

Film Credits:

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2008 Mark R. Leeper