Originally, this was simply called Maurice Richard. Feeling it? Those little tingles of excitement? If not, let us hazard a guess that you’re not Canadian. Or especially into hockey.
Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, a Quebecois left-winger for the Montreal Canadiens who in the mid-1940s scored 50 goals in 50 games (imagine mastering Ping-Pong blindfolded), is viewed by fans less as a mortal than as a Paul Bunyanesque folk hero. Humble in his fame, respectful of his longtime wife, and of a premulletted age, Richard is a hockey icon anyone can get behind. That he also made it cool to be French-Canadian wins him the title of the Muhammad Ali of the great white north.
Charles Binamé’s ultrasafe production hews to the fairy tale, delivering an appealingly sensitive Richard in look-alike Roy Dupuis. The Rocket is, for better or worse, everything that Todd Haynes’s prismatic I’m Not There is not: all the legendary Richard anecdotes crammed into a chronological narrative, including his moving his family’s piano up an icy flight of stairs in the daytime and scoring five goals that night. Ultimately, it’s the fastidiously accurate rink sequences that hold our attention. Or someone’s attention. If you like your sports movies heavy on the sports, you know where to be.