Coming of age stories are in infinite supply. While there has been some great ones over the years, ones that have even defined a generation, there are few that break the mold. For the new film by Alexi Pappas and Jeremy Teicher, the game has forever been changed.
Tracktown is a film about Plumb Marigold (Pappas) a college student who is finally trying out for the Olympic Trials in long-distance running. During the few days before the finals, Plumb begins to open up her world in ways she never imagined. Life becomes more than her career aspirations and more about the joy of living in the world around her.
Have you pin-pointed the groundbreaking element yet? Plumb is in college, she’s in her twenties, and the film is about her growth as a person. For the majority of the population, this makes sense. Normal epiphanies tend to happen when you’re well into your adulthood, and the fact that Tracktown acknowledged that, was a welcomed breath of fresh air.
Pappas is an Olympian track star in her own right, which allowed for the sports theme of the film to feel natural. The viewer gets to see a different side to running than they have had access to before. Many may think that running is a solitary sport, but Plumb proves it’s anything but. The camaraderie she has with her teammate and strength she gets from her father all open the doors to the sports film as an element of life and not just as an activity. The honesty behind becoming an Olympian, which Pappas knows first hand, creates an open door to the unseen world of sports.
Pappas and Teicher have created an honesty within this film about life that has been missing in previous coming of age films. This might be because of the certain restrictions that are necessary for teens, but even then, Tracktown doesn’t go full adult mode in Plumb’s journey. This honesty allows for there to be a connection formed. The connection could be strictly because she’s a bit older and in the real world, or it could be because of her complex personality.
Growth is not restricted to teenagers, and Plumb becomes a hero of sorts for the adults still trying to find themselves. Many struggle with finding the balance between professional and personal lives, seeing it played out with someone so young with elevated aspirations becomes comforting. If the most focused and trained person can’t handle the complexity of life, then the confusion you still feel becomes normal. It’s hard finding a balance in life, and that becomes more complicated when you aren’t even sure you know what you want to do. Conflicting elements of a persons existence is a shared experience, and it’s welcoming to see that aspect on screen.
There are a few details of the filmmaking choices that stood out along with the story. Plumb is an awkward athlete, and it’s captivating watching someone who is so focused in one area of her life stumble through the rest of it. She becomes someone you want to hang out with, even if you have no idea why she sleeps in an elevation tent. Maybe it’s her lovable personality, but the other element that’s enjoyable is her use of quotes.
Throughout the film Plumb narrates random quotes at different points in her journey. Some quotes are inspirational, some motivating, but all are the little words of wisdom we need to be reminded of from time to time. It’s not pretentious, you know she’s not trying to prove her worth, instead it’s as if she knows that sometimes we need an extra push towards greatness.
Tracktown is a unique film about personal maturity through finding a balance between our wants and needs. The honesty established by the filmmakers and though the lead character allows the audience to form a connection, no matter the age group of the viewer. It’s an enjoyable quirky comedy, with a deeper level of meaning if you’re open to taking that path.
Tracktown is now out in limited release and available on VOD.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Samuel Goldwyn Films