SXSW 2017 Review: Dealt is an Emotional and Powerful Tale About Being True to Yourself
At every film festival, I make it a priority to see at least one documentary. Dealt is the documentary that I chose as part of my SXSW 2017 coverage as the subject matter intrigued me as a fan of magic. This fascinating documentary is centered on the life of Richard Turner, a card mechanic that has performed one of a kind card tricks for decades. What makes his story so interesting is that at the early age of nine, Richard began losing his eyesight. Going against all the odds, Richard pushed forward and managed to maintain a career as one of the most well-renowned card magicians working today.
Dealt is one of those rare documentary films that manages to captivate its audience and keep them invested from beginning to end. Director Luke Korem manages to tell Richard Turner’s story perfectly in just 85 minutes. While a lot of documentaries focus on a period of a person’s life, Korem focuses on Richard’s entire life as well as his family members. We are introduced to his sister Lori, who has also lost her vision. We see that Lori handles her blindness differently than Richard and it is so interesting to see two people from the same family embrace their weaknesses in their unique ways.
Throughout the film, we learn the history of Richard’s eyesight and how he simply refused to let his blindness define him as a person. His wife Kim and his son Asa are a big part of his support system and I found their involvement in Richard’s life to be almost as inspiring as Richard’s own life. I loved that Korem made sure to showcase how Richard’s blindness affected his family and it impacted their lives. Having these moments made the film feel more well-rounded while also adding in additional emotional storylines for the viewer to connect with.
It is hard to watch Dealt and not feel inspired by Richard Turner as a person. In a world where so many people play the victim, it is so refreshing to watch a film where a man fights against the odds because he refuses to let his limitations get the best of him. The fact that Richard spent most of his career refusing to allow people to make mention of his blindness is a remarkable feat and something that should be celebrated. There is a scene near the end of the film where Richard is shown mentoring a young girl named Michaela Vail who has just lost her eyesight. I couldn’t help but get choked up by this moment because she saw Richard as an inspiration and loved his attitude to believe in himself.
All in all, Dealt is a fascinating story of a man who never allowed his shortcomings to define him. Richard Turner’s story is inspirational and makes you think about your life and shortcomings. This is the type of documentary that will make you feel alive while reminding the viewer always to live each day to the fullest. Dealt is the best documentaries that I have seen since Tickled back at Sundance in 2016. It is inspiring and interesting from start to finish. Highly recommended.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for Dealt is a 8 out of 10.