Constance Brenneman, Brad Hammer
Using what's called the "Hero's Journey Model," Constance Brenneman's feature-length documentary "Finding Inner Hero" follows a group of people who, in one way or another, have suffered - but became stronger because of that suffering. If you are wondering what the "Hero's Journey" is all about, let me lay out the short version. This model is basically comparing life to the cliche tropes of your garden variety superhero. The life events that ultimately create the resulting "hero" status. In "Finding Inner Hero," the chapter system is used as we hear stories from various individuals that, frankly, are often heartbreaking.
The meat of this documentary is the stories themselves, told by those who actually lived through them. No actor portrayals here, "Finding Inner Hero" is as honest as it gets. I feel that trying to describe the content in detail of Brenneman's film would diminish the film itself, so I'm trying to avoid a point-by-point description. What I can say is that a whole range of topics are addressed here. Drug addiction, PTSD, parental pressure and expectations, suicide, sexual preference - there's literally something almost anyone can relate with represented here. Anyone who has ever been down and out, that is. But the real message here isn't the hard and difficult stories the guests in this film tell; that's only the lead-up to the real message of this film. "Finding Inner Hero" is a movie about the journey itself, the fact that in many cases we need the bad in order to find the good. Sometimes even, this film suggests that all the bad stuff that happens, the wrong choices and bad situations, are crucial to finally crossing that finish line where everything is alright. This film is about hope. That's the gist of things.
The very nature of the documentary film is more or less a cemented way to present a story. We all know what to expect from a doc and rely on the familiar format in order to connect us with the story - stories being told. "Finding Inner Hero" is exactly what you think it is presentation-wise. Talking heads, stock footage, and the back and forth between individual stories ... all coming together to form a cohesive film. The truth of the matter is that I don't know what else to write regarding the technical elements of this film. Does it all fit together and flow in a natural feeling way? Yes, yes, it does. Were the stories engaging enough to keep me interested for almost an hour and a half? Yes. Yes, they were. There is absolutely nothing I can think of from a production standpoint that raises any red flags. "Finding Inner Hero" was a well-thought-out, nicely put-together film. Of that, there is no question.
I have no problems awarding good movies with a three and a half or four-star rating. There are plenty of good and great flicks out there, but it's much rarer that I ever go above the four-star mark. Four and a half and higher ratings are reserved for those truly great movies that really get you thinking. In the case of this film, I really did give a lot of thought to what I felt it deserved - and went back and forth a few times from four to four and a half. In the end, I had to simply not think about the technical elements of the production - and instead focus on how this movie made me feel. I'll admit that a story or two from the guests hit pretty close to home, but that is neither here nor there. I went with my gut when rating this flick and stand by my decision. "Finding Inner Hero" is a great film - one I highly recommend checking out when given the opportunity. Four and a half out of five stars.