The Medora High School basketball team doesn’t just lose—it loses every time, every year, by dozens of points. But such ignominy hides a fascinating anomaly: In an education system long since consolidated into superschools, this outlier learning institution has a student population of 72, and just 33 boys from which to form a roster. It’s a throwback to when such places were the heart of small towns, except now both town and team confront an unforgiving new American reality.
Over the course of the 2010–11 season, we’re introduced to working-class kids for whom even basketball futility is a salve. With Mom away in rehab, Rusty crashes with teammate Zack—until the public -housing authority kicks him to the curb; meanwhile Dylan, who lives with his grandmother while his mother wrangles a multiplying brood, weighs whether to accept a Facebook friend request from a father he’s never met.
Though it’s culled from 600 hours of footage, Medora feels thin in terms of memorable imagery, and bounces a little too hastily between scenes. But it’s utterly impossible not to pull for these boys, or for a film that sees them as complex individuals rather than sociological evidence.
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