‘ Re­quiem for a Run­ning Back’

Chicago Sun-Times - - MOVIES -

Yes, we al­ready know there’s a con­nec­tion be­tween a ca­reer in foot­ball and the likely oc­cur­rence of mul­ti­ple con­cus­sions and pos­si­ble long- term brain dam­age.

The “Front­line” doc­u­men­tary “League of De­nial,” the Will Smith drama “Con­cus­sion” and books such as “Count­ing the Days While My Mind Slips Away” pre­ceded Re­becca Car­pen­ter’s “Re­quiem for a Run­ning Back” — but Car­pen­ter’s

★★★★ film might be the most sear­ing, most pow­er­ful, most per­sonal and most un­for­get­table take on this most Amer­i­can of tragedies.

Lewis Car­pen­ter was an early NFL star. He played on three cham­pi­onship teams in the 1950s and 1960s, and then spent 31 years as a coach in the league.

Mr. Car­pen­ter was di­ag­nosed post­mortem with Chronic Trau­matic En­cephalopa­thy, which led to daugh­ter Re­becca em­bark­ing on a multi- year jour­ney to re- ex­am­ine her up­bring­ing, to talk to NFL leg­ends such as Mike Ditka about CTE, and to con­duct in­ter­views with for­mer team­mates of her fa­ther as well as for­mer play­ers he coached.

The end re­sult is a bril­liant and brave and beau­ti­fully hon­est film. Opens Fri­day at the Gene Siskel Film Cen­ter.

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