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Wind soars in Cup races but flounders on land

Wind
Directed by Carroll Ballard.
Written by Rudy Wurlitzer and
Mac Gudgeon.
Starring Matthew Modine and
Jennifer Grey.
Loews Fresh Pond Cinema.

By Joshua Andresen

If you enjoy sailing, you will enjoy Carroll Ballard's Wind. This is a visually spectacular film that takes you out on the water and sails you along on the 12-meter boats that race in the America's Cup. If you do not sail, however, I would not recommend this movie. Though the sailing sequences are excellent, the movie's story is not convincing.

Wind starts and ends with races from two America's Cup finals. The Americans lose the first race through an error by tactician Will Parker (Matthew Modine), who loses his girlfriend, Kate Bass (Jennifer Grey), at the same time when she decides to lead her own life and goes off to pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering. In the middle sequences of the film, Will searches Kate out in a hangar in the middle of the salt flats of Utah with a dream of building a boat that will win back the America's Cup. Will and Kate, along with Kate's new beau, Joe Neville (Jack Thompson), and Will's new girlfriend, Abigail Weld (Rebecca Miller), work together to engineer and build a boat that can compete in the America's Cup. The movie ends with the final races of the next America's Cup.

The sailing sequences in Wind are truly amazing. The drama of being in a big race combines with the excitement of controlling the large boats on the open seas for two breathtaking scenes. Some of the drama and excitement is lost to those who do not understand sailing, though. I know very little about sailing, so I took an expert along with me. Even with her supplementary whispers about racing tactics and sailing maneuvers, I felt I still was not grasping all that was going on. The movie does accommodate those who know little about sailing by cutting occasionally to a television announcer who explains briefly what is going on during the racing sequences. These clips were helpful but inadequate. The sailing scenes remain sensational, but are undoubtedly diminished for this reason.

. The plot is incoherent and the characters are poorly developed. The story includes several conflicts, but deals with them in an abbreviated and sometimes ridiculous manner. In addition, it seems that in order to include as much sailing as possible and enough of a story to make some sense, character development was left out.

The movie begins in a secluded lagoon where Will and Kate are swimming. Immediately, they start talking about sailing, and Will explains that he has been asked to join the America's Cup crew. The action cuts to Newport, Rhode Island, site of the America's Cup. Amid sailing scenes, the conflicts arise as Will allows Kate to sail with the men, and as his expectations of her in their relationship grow. These are dealt with quickly, and Kate leaves the scene. The race takes place and the Americans lose.

The film then cuts to the Utah hangar. Here Kate and Joe are doing aeronautical engineering research when Will shows up dreaming of a boat that will reclaim the America's Cup from the Australians. Kate is not impressed, but Joe is drawn in. Will returns to Rhode Island to woo the money of Abigail Weld (daughter of Will's captain in the first race) and brings her back to Utah. This unlikely foursome of engineers finances and builds a craft suitable for the America's Cup race. Conflicts arise among the four over who will head the project, and others stem from the difficult "love square" that connects them. The film resolves the leadership conflict through short yelling matches and in one ridiculous scene where the four wrestle with each other. The story has its charming moments but is unconvincing overall.

The final sequence of Wind is phenomenal. Despite an anticlimax between legs in the final race, sailor and non-sailor alike will be at the edges of their seats in excitement and anticipation for the sensational finish, which drew spontaneous applause from the audience.