Directed by Felipe Jorge Documentary Film Review by Owen Herman
Boxing has always had a strong relationship with cinema, be it fictional like the Rocky franchise or documentaries about the sport’s greatest characters and stories. Indie documentary Touch Gloves isn’t new or original, but it does move away from the heroic underdogs or world champions that are so often featured on screen. Instead, Touch Gloves goes into the real heart of the sport: the local gyms that keep kids off the street and set youngsters on a path to greater things. It is a personal, honest look into the lower levels of boxing and its intimacy brings a grounded feel to the film. Director/editor/cinematographer Felipe Jorge has made a documentary that is still inspirational but also very focused on the believable, relatable stories of ordinary kids wanting extraordinary things.
Touch Gloves centres on Ray Hebert, the owner of a small boxing gym in Haverhill, Massachusetts. A likeable, committed man who has spent his retirement trying to help kids get fit and learn to box. There is a natural, chronological order to the story, with Jorge following a variety of fighters as they compete at different levels. Jorge’s editing allows the story to flow effortlessly and his interviews really seem to get into the minds of the people on screen. These are people you start to root for, even if you haven’t known them that long. It is also easy to be inspired by them, whether it’s the dreams of an 11 year old wannabe pro or a 27 year old attempting to return to the sport. Jorge manages to capture the warm, motivating atmosphere that permeates this gym and its members.
Touch Gloves has so much warmth behind its boxing technicalities that it’s hard not to enjoy, even if you have no interest in the sport. To make a documentary that interests and grips people who have no personal relationship with the subject matter is very difficult, but this is exactly what Jorge has achieved. If you love boxing you’ll love this film for its intimate look at the heart of the sport. If you don’t, you’ll love this film for the honest and inspiring stories that are on display. A thoroughly enjoyable documentary.