Title: The Scars of Ali Boulala
MPAA Rating: N/A
Director: Max Eriksson
Starring: Ali Boulala, Rune Glifberg, Arto Saari
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
What It Is: We follow the journey of Swedish skateboarder Ali Boulala, a man whose former life has become quite literally a blur. A drunken motorcycle crash in 2007 left Ali in a coma and his close friend Shane Cross dead. Ali survived the brain trauma with limited memory of the man he used to be. One thing he can’t forget is the fatal mistake he made that cost his friend his life. After physical therapy and 2 years in prison, he still has to work through his demons to even work up a smile on his face. The formerly happy-go-lucky punk kid that was beloved by everyone who knew him is now a shell of himself–something he works through with newfound sobriety.
What We Think: The amount of 90s and early 2000s footage is incredible and really helps carry the first half of the film. Ali, unable to narrate his own story as his memory has abandoned him, gets his story told through friends and through old footage. The fun and joy you see through this old footage make the post-accident story all the more unsettling and uncomfortable. Ali, despite his flaws and mistakes, is a man you want to root for. He can never skate again, he falls deeper into drugs and alcohol after Shane’s death and struggles to cope with the loss of his friend and his career at his own hands. That he never gets a true happy ending only adds to the tragedy that is his life, undone by one major lapse in judgement.
Our Grade: A, The best documentaries are able to place you into the story’s setting and this film does just that. The 90s footage paints a beautiful portrait of an obsessive skater who wants to make people smile despite his destructive tendencies. The flip side is deeply personal interviews with Ali, his family, and his friends that are solemn, honest, and remorseful. While Ali’s problems are of his own doing, you can put yourself in his shoes feel a sense of empathy for a man who quite literally lost everything in a split second.