This keenly perceptive, made-for-TV biography of a physically and mentally challenged athlete pulls no punches about prejudice toward the disabled. As the combative Loretta, the subtle Kimberly Elise (BELOVED) demonstrates why she's one of the finest young actresses working today. Handicapped by a twisted foot and slow learning skills, Loretta Claiborne (Elise) faces an unpromising future. Her hard-working mother, Rita (Tina Lifford), refuses to cater to Loretta's shortcomings and instead nurtures her daughter's fighting spirit. Picked on at school and resented by her pretty older sister, Christine (Nicole Ari Parker), Loretta sometimes resorts to using her fists in frustration. In grade school, a teacher encourages Loretta to excel in running, the one activity that brings her joy. In high school, fellow athletes encourage Loretta to raise funds and collect signatures for a female track team, all the while knowing that Loretta won't qualify to join because she's a Special Ed student. Loretta is expelled after she tackles her chief denigrator, and she sullenly defies the efforts of her caseworker, Janet McFarland (Camryn Manheim). But Janet is just as stubborn as Loretta and forces her to participate in the Special Olympics, where Loretta shines. Despite her newfound success, Loretta encounters a series of setbacks, including the departure of her beloved brother (Damon Cupton) for the armed services and Rita's reluctance to permit foot surgery. Then, after participating in the world-famous Boston Marathon, Loretta discovers that she's ineligible for the Special Olympics and must cope with the terminal illness of her mother, who has always been her guiding spirit. Eschewing standard spiritual-uplift cliches, this dignified biopic offers honestly written and acted relationships. Instead of the usual cheery, sanitized triumph over adversity, this true-life tale poignantly emphasizes the fact that Loretta's suffering was the catalyst for her hard-won victories.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: NR
- Review: This keenly perceptive, made-for-TV biography of a physically and mentally challenged athlete pulls no punches about prejudice toward the disabled. As the combative Loretta, the subtle Kimberly Elise (BELOVED) demonstrates why she's one of the finest young… (more)