Reviewer grade: B
Although the scripting is often nothing to cheer about, writer/director Robert Collector hits an emotional three-pointer or two in “Believe in Me,” a story of girls basketball in Western Oklahoma in the Sixties. The film, based on Harold Keith’s novel “Brief Garland,” tells the fictionalized story of real-life coach Jim Keith, Harold Keith’s nephew, who started his girls’ basketball coaching career at Sayre, called Middleton in the film.
While the acting is far from a slam dunk, only Bruce Dern as a powerful and mean-spirited town elder deserves a technical for making his character into a cartoonish Snidely Whiplash. Jeffrey Donovan doesn’t bring much energy to the role of coach Clay Driscoll, but he has a quiet appeal that saves him. The film puts the hoop dreams of the girls in the context of lives defined by the times and geographical/cultural realities. Their struggles within that context are often touching. Take your daughters and sons to this film. PG