Ride (Adelaide Film Festival) – Film Review

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying ‘If you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’, and I believe this resonates strongly with Australian BMX royalty Sam Willoughby and his American wife, Alise Post.

Both are incredibly passionate and dedicated to the sport of BMX, becoming world champions over the years, and reaching the peak of the sport, but all of that was taken away for Sam when he suffered a horrible, life changing injury. 

In September 2016, during a training session, Sam had a freak accident, crashing his bike and landing on his head, breaking his neck, and sustaining a spinal injury. He was left with no movement in his body from his chest down, an absolutely devastating injury for such a young and active man. 

Sam and Alise have teamed up with director Serge Ou to create the documentary Ride which follows lives of Sam and Alise Willoughby, starting with their early days, introduction to the world on BMX, the rise of their careers, the accident, and the direction that it has moved their lives in and the changes they must make.

Serge Ou has created an absolutely amazing film with Ride and tells an incredible story. It is mind-blowing just how much footage he was able to source, from newsreels, sports broadcasts and personal collections, to put together a story spanning over 30 years. 

Both Sam and Alise came from humble beginnings, Sam was a BMX mad kid who would spend his spare time digging up the backyard to make jumps and tracks with his brother and mates, something I spent a lot of time doing as a kid. Seeing that footage made me feel incredibly nostalgic and it gave me a deeper connection to their story, especially being only a few years older than Sam too.

I think Ou’s strength in his storytelling is his vast experience across his career. Having worked on drama, film, and television, this allows him to construct an engaging narrative and dialogue to tell this challenging and inspirational story. While it does deal with some darker topics, it doesn’t dwell on these moments and instead finds the strength and inspiration within them.

Sam‘s story is pretty incredible, and Ride does complete justice in telling it. This is honestly one of the most inspirational and moving films I have seen this year. The strength that this couple have, their unwavering love and support for each other brought tears to my eyes, and many others – there wasn’t a dry eye in the packed cinema. This is a must watch for all, not just fans of BMX or sports. In fact, it’s also a love story and one that will resonate with so many people, and it needs to be shared!

Ride premiered at Adelaide Film Festival and will be available on ABC Plus and ABC iView from November 20.
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