A look at aspiring young boxers in Los Angeles tentatively set against the backdrop of the embattled immigration rights debate, the documentary "Born and Bred" reaches for some big-picture connect-the-dots it can never quite pull together.
Filmmaker Justin Frimmer tries early on to draw connections between the few fighters he is following and the larger struggles of arriving immigrants. As he tells the story of a pair of teenage brothers looking to qualify for the Olympic boxing team and an even younger fighter trying to overcome a troubled childhood, Frimmer in essence loses the forest for the trees.
As so often happens with sports-related films, both fiction and nonfiction, Frimmer sets aside the personal, human dramas that should truly be driving his story in favor of the momentary spike of whether someone will win or lose the big game or bout. An awkward voice-over narration used throughout the film explains things that should simply be shown, such as how a trainer's pre-fight talks over time transform into something closer to sermons.
Title cards at the end of the film cover huge swaths of material that could seemingly have made up a movie of its own — such as a fighter splitting with his longtime trainer — and even if Frimmer simply didn't have that footage it makes for an odd conclusion to end on huge, gaping absences.
With "Born And Bred," Frimmer swings for a scope he never quite manages, and his film's larger ambitions feel like he is punching above his weight.
"Born And Bred." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.