'Godspeed: The Story of Page Jones': Film Review

Godspeed Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Inclusive PR

This inspiring true-life tale too often feels like a glorified home movie.

Luann Barry's documentary recounts the difficult recovery of race car driver Page Jones from a traumatic brain injury.

Page Jones is a very lucky man.

That may not be the immediate reaction experienced while watching Luann Barry's documentary about the former race car driver who's spent more than two decades recovering from a traumatic brain injury suffered during a 1994 accident. But as Godspeed: The Story of Page Jones makes dramatically clear, he greatly benefited from the support of friends, family and community, to which many similarly afflicted victims don't have access.

Page, the son of Parnelli Jones (winner of the 1963 Indy 500), was well on his way to following in his father's footsteps when he crashed during an Ohio midget car race in 1994 at the age of 22. His mental and physical injuries were devastating, and it was originally thought that he would need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

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Indeed, the harrowing home movie footage seen in the documentary, shot over many years by a family friend, documents Jones' difficult rehabilitation. Depicting his slow progress from the early years, during which he was often prone to violent emotional outbursts, through his eventual relative independence, the film is often extremely difficult to watch.

And yet a happy ending is reached, with Page finding love, getting married, having children and even, fourteen years after his accident, getting back his driver's license. Among those offering observations about the lengthy, painful process are Page himself, family members, doctors, therapists and friends, including one who points out, "Wiping your friend's ass is a pretty big deal."

Besides Jones' individual case, the film makes a strong appeal for greater financial support for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries, with the huge costs of treatment often not covered even under good health insurance plans.

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But despite its inspiring real-life tale and its laudable message, Godspeed is too flimsily constructed and crudely amateurish to have much of an impact. Most closely resembling a well-assembled home movie with a particularly dramatic theme, it will best be appreciated only by those personally involved.

Production: 1st Wave Productions
Director/screenwriter: Luann Barry
Producer: Mary Leonard
Editor: Jeffrey Steinkamp

Not rated, 64 min.