Domingo Barragan is the representative on the other side of the racial divide. He comes from a poor family, and early on in the film, his father gets deported back to Mexico. This understandably affects his schooling, his focus, and his relationship with his teammates. Domingo is far more relatable than Erik, and the documentary really shines when it focuses on Domingo’s story. There’s a scene where he is reunited with his father, and I had a hard time fighting back the tears. It’s emotional, relatable, and you can’t help but root for Domingo to do better in school, reconnect with his team, and make something of himself so he can take on the world just like his father believes he can.
The third subject in Hood River is Coach Riviera, and he’s by far the subject who is featured the least. We get a brief look into the family life he leads with his wife and children, but we don’t learn anything about why he coaches, where he comes from, and what makes him successful. The film portrays him as a solid dude willing to go above and beyond for his team, but again, we don’t dive nearly as deep into his life as we do with Erik and Domingo.
“…don’t really see any significant struggles or conflicts that hold the team back…”
A large portion of the film is comprised of game footage. Most of it is fine, but there are a lot of instances where the shot framing is off, and I found myself having no idea whether or not anybody scored. I had a hard time tracking the team, as I feel the camera operators were more obsessed with framing a mood rather than informing the audience on the outcome and the stakes of the game. It’s undoubtedly distracting when it happens, but it’s thankfully not super frequent.
All in all, Hood River failed to captivate me. We don’t really see any significant struggles or conflicts that hold the team back, they’re just vaguely alluded to. We have one likable subject, one that’s borderline obnoxious, and one that’s never expanded upon enough. The film is sure to please viewers who are already big soccer or high school sports fans, but it won’t do much for anyone else.
Hood River was scheduled to screen at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.
"…the guts and core of this story are made up of things we’ve seen in better films..."