In a small south Texas town, there aren’t many career options for young people besides oil rigs, the military, or fast-food restaurants. Luz Garcia, a fiery high-school athlete, is determined to forge a different future; she’s gained admission to the University of Texas at Austin. The problem is she can’t afford to go. With her one shot at a scholarship riding on the state powerlifting championship, she sees no choice but to bend the rules to ensure her victory. Although Luz’s rashness and frustration land her in increasingly hotter water, they also fuel her with courage and empowerment.
July 28, 2011
New York Times
Powerlifting as Escape
By RACHEL SALTZ
Perched somewhere between hard-luck tale and inspirational story, “All She Can,” about a high school girl trying to win a scholarship to the University of Texas, mostly feels as ponderous as the sport that might be her ticket out: powerlifting.
Directed by Amy Wendel and written by Ms. Wendel and Daniel Meisel, the movie is set in a small South Texas town that presents limited options — working on oil rigs, joining the Army — to its mostly Mexican-American residents. Luz (Corina Calderon) wants something more, and to get it she needs that scholarship.
Ms. Wendel shows a place where people struggle to make ends meet and where storybook endings are rare. And Luz is no saint: she sulks, throws a weight and worse when things don’t go her way. It’s no accident that her sport is powerlifting. It demands gritty hard work, and even a successful lift looks painful, not like a soaring triumph. (And, of course, there’s the obvious metaphor: girl struggles with weight of the world.)
Though the story’s setup is conventional, the plot takes unexpected twists and turns. But they’re often ham-fisted and sometimes not even clear. The movie bucks Hollywood norms without quite knowing what to put in their place.
Worse, you never root for Ms. Calderon’s Luz, who goes from sullen to more sullen to a bit less sullen. She has discipline — to lift, she has to keep her weight down and train constantly — but not much compassion and no joy.
ALL SHE CAN
Directed by Amy Wendel; written by Ms. Wendel and Daniel Meisel; director of photography, Rob Hauer; edited by Andres Santamaria; music by Kevin Afflack; production design by Jade Healy; costumes by Amy Maner; produced by Mr. Meisel and Susan Kirr; released by the Maya Indie Film Series.
Running time: 1 hour 31 minutes.
This film is not rated.
WITH: Corina Calderon (Luz), Jeremy Ray Valdez (Raynaldo), Joseph Julian Soria (Luis), Julia Vera (Abuela), Julio César Cedillo (Coach Chapa) and Leticia Magaña (Rosana).