Bethany Hamilton was only thirteen-years-old when she was attacked by a tiger shark while surfing in her home state of Hawaii. She lost her left arm in that attack and the story of her recovery has been made into a film titled Soul Surfer. It is an uplifting movie in its tale of faith and survival and may be too sweetly joyous to appeal to the jaded members of our society. For those however who embrace the wonders of faith, hope and bravery it is an engrossing and entertaining film.
Bethany (AnnaSophia Robb) lives in Hawaii with her father Tom (Dennis Quaid), mother Cherie (Helen Hunt) and two brothers Noah (Ross Thomas) and Timmy (Chris Brochu). Her best friend is Alana (Lorraine Nicholson) and the two girls surf and receive instructions from Alana's father Holt (Kevin Sorbo).
One day while surfing with Alana and Holt, Bethany is attacked by a shark and her left arm is bitten off. It is a horrible attack and she loses sixty per cent of the blood in her body as well as enduring other complications. Her survival is a miracle; her recovery even more so.
After a very short time the young woman gets back in the water and soon is surfing again. The story of her faith and courage makes up the rest of the film. It is a story that might be hard to believe were it not true.
Robb is the center of the film as Bethany and she is very good in the emotional and warm scenes involving this girl. She looks the part of the sun and surf loving athlete. Nicholson is also believable as her best friend. This young lady gets better and better with each part she takes and lets herself be totally absorbed by the character.
The heart of the film is Quaid. He conveys the role of a man who sees his child hurt and hurting. Quaid looks the part of an older surfer dude while also showing the pain hic character felt in trying to help his little girl regain her life. There are a lot of emotions that go across Quaid's face at different points in the film but each is there to help us feel the emotional toll on this man.
It is great seeing Helen Hunt in a new film. She has not been too visible since her Oscar win in "As Good As It Gets." This is not her best role but it is one that she can easily play. Carrie Underwood makes her big screen debut and does not embarrass herself. She has along way to go but she is at least competent in the role of Bethany's spiritual advisor.
The film is rated PG for mild violence.
Bethany's Christian faith is a part of the film but it does not dominate it. You get to see all aspects of her personality and life. The final scenes of the film will touch your heart and make you admire this wonderful young woman who turned a tragedy into a triumph.
I scored Soul Surfer a sunny 6 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper