For those suffering from film festival withdrawal, the inaugural **Palm Beach International Women’s Festival** begins tonight in West Palm Beach and Lake Worth. Sharon Gless of **Cagney & Lacey** fame will be honored. One person **PBiWF** should considering honoring next year would be surfer champion, Bethany Hamilton.
Bethany Hamilton was the thirteen year old surfer prodigy who lost her arm to a tiger shark. Through sheer will and determination, Hamilton returned to the sport that she loved and within a year, she was honored by ESPN as the “Comeback Player of the Year.” Recently turning twenty one, Hamilton still surfs competitively and published “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.”
An inspirational story, one could see how Hollywood hucksters could turn the movie version of **Soul Surfer** into a maudlin Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcast. Fortunately for the ticket buyer, great care went into this production. Hollywood has produced a pure family movie that will be remembered for many years to come.
Dennis Quaid and Linda Hunt portray Pa and Ma Hamilton, respectively. These cool parents home school their children, which allows Bethany (AnnaSophia Robb) extra time to practice her surfing. After winning a local surfing tournament, Bethany begins to attack corporate sponsors. The Hamilton’s live in a perfect paradise until the shark attack.
Unlike the buildup for **Jaws,** the shark attack in this movie is a jarring surprise. The sequence is not sensationalistic like **Piranha 3D,** but done with realistic urgency. This sequence, along with the climatic surfing sequences, are edited quite well. One can see the action within the frame on the screen and avoids attention deficit disorder editing.
Top billed AnnaSophia Robb carries this film from beginning to end with a restrained performance. In her scenes with Dennis Quaid, these two actors bring a sense of conviction to their discussion about biblical faith. **Soul Surfer** is a movie about heart and faith. **Soul Surfer** is also a film about families and for families. **Soul Surfer** is also one of the best movies released in 2011.