Apparently the theme of overcoming struggle is not just in the movie “From the Rough”, but it’s also a part of the movie’s release. Filmed in 2010, the movie is just seeing the light of day in a nationwide release (it was shown at some film festivals) in 2014. Whatever the reason for the struggle surrounding the film’s release and poor marketing, it’s a shame, because it’s an inspiring, family friendly story that should be seen.
The film is based on the true life story of Catana Starks, the first African-American woman to coach a collegiate Division 1 men’s golf team. In the movie, Starks (Taraji P. Henson) takes on the role of the men’s golf coach at Tennessee State University at the end of her season as women’s swim team coach. Her Athletic Director, Kendrick Paulsen Jr. (Henry Simmons), holds back giving her scholarships and new equipment. Using her resources, Starks eventually finds players internationally to come and play for her.
With a ragtag team of misfits, Starks polishes her gems into diamonds. It’s a classic underdog story and each team member has their own as well. Whether dealing with self-identity problems in the case of Korean player Ji-Kyung (who goes by Young G), feeling like you are the trash everyone says you are with Britain’s Edward (Tom Felton), or second guessing yourself like Craig (Robert Bailey Jr.) the players have hurdles to get over. With so many issues you could see how this film could easily turn into a melodrama and get away from the director. While there are plenty of glimpses of it, co-writer/director Pierre Bagley manages to bring the film to touch the line but not cross it in such a way that we never come back.
Even though the film’s script reads like an after school special, Taraji P. Henson’s work proves that a great actor can elevate any script to new heights. It’s a performance that I can only imagine inspired her fellow actors around her to rise to the bar set before them. On screen, her tenacity to be the best and pull the best out of her golf team is so genuine that you’re willing to tolerate and even enjoy the syrupy feel good moments of the film...and there are plenty.
“From the Rough” is definitely a family friendly movie that would be played in your local middle and high school for a lesson on themes such as perseverance, commitment, etc. Henson shines in the film and honors the legacy of the real Catana Starks. While I would definitely suggest renting it on Netflix for most people, it may be worth the money for a family outing to the theater as well.