TIFF Canada’s Top Ten Review: HURT (2015) ★★★★


There are always three sides of a life: its ups and downs, and thirdly, the most unpleasant one – when you hit rock bottom… from the bottom you can’t really come out if you’re unable to swim through it. Some of us are lucky enough to experience only two sides of it from which we could find a way to recover. But someone is less fortunate to experience all of them, and in the end, finds himself at the rock bottom with all possible outcomes. Steve Fonyo, a one-legged cancer survivor who successfully completed a cross-Canada run in the ‘80s, only to spend his next thirty years in the shadow of his real self, mired in crime and addiction. What is it that made him erase all beautiful memories, achievements and hope that all Canadians felt for him is the question none of us is able to answer. But perhaps, after seeing Alan Zweig’sHURT”, you will be more compassionate and feel sympathy for a man, who was once a hero… but for some of you, will remain forever….

It’s hard to pass each scene without feeling any type of emotion towards its subject. That of course does not mean in a negative way. However, Zweig’s film manages to capture your attention on Fonyo with astonishment, and with the answered question: ‘how could it be possible to have so many opportunities in life and miss each of them?’  When the movie begins, you already find Fonyo in the shape that he probably could not see himself thirty years ago. We find out that he had a cancer that lead him to the surgery table, where he had to lose his leg. However, he finds strength to continue his fight afterwards, and declares his desire to run across Canada to raise awareness for cancer, and raise funds. After his successful attempt, Fonyo gets all possible attention that he probably found difficult to handle. But two years later, instead of enjoying his life and build a better future for himself, he starts using drugs, meantime, building a criminal record that continues till the end of the film.

Despite his ongoing personal issues and victimizing himself, Fonyo does not really appear as a dislikable person, but rather one who became a victim of his own fears, uncertainties and desire to get the attention of people that he could not get from his parents. Zweig does a tremendous job as a filmmaker trying to stay as objective as possible to a very difficult subject. There are many lessons that can be learnt from this docu -film. Each scene contains a life teaching moment none of us should ever miss. More importantly, no matter how terrible you will feel throughout the film towards Steve Fonyo, one thing you always must remember: he tried to be the best example for people. He tried to showcase all possibilities a single human being could have achieved. Of course, it was possible to reach up to pedestal or fly high… But once you fall, it’s not easy to recover. And that was not easy for Fonyo either….

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