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HEART OF THE GAME

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Ward Serrill's low-key yet rousing documentary about a Seattle girls' high school basketball team is the perfect antidote to those saccharine inspirational sports dramas about plucky underdogs and come-from-behind victories. It's not that Heart doesn't offer those satisfying threads: After all, female athletics programs are perennially second-string, and the film's two main protagonists are unlikely stars. The coach, Bill Resler, is a wonkish tax attorney, given to cheesy animal analogies. The team's star player is Darnell Russell, a temperamental kid from a poor family who needs b-ball to make college; she's blessed with natural skills ... and all the frustrating traumas of adolescence. Serrill shot his film over several seasons, and as luck would have it, the trials of the team and Russell combine to deliver a perfectly arced narrative. The last reel will have your heart in your throat, but it's not the game that matters ... it's watching these real people achieve an honest, true victory. Starts Fri., Aug. 11. Squirrel Hill (AH)

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