Star Rating:

Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story

Actors: Mark Pollock, Simone George

Release Date: Saturday 30th November 2013

Genre(s): Documentary

Running time: 87 minutes

You'd have to have a rotten heart not to be touched by Mark Pollock's story. Yes, director Ross Whittaker mercilessly goes for the heart strings, ramping up that sentimental music at every available opportunity, but there's no denying the director knows exactly what he's doing and he does it well.

What is surprising is that Unbreakable is less about Mark Pollock's difficulties with losing his sight but here's a brief roundup. Diagnosed as near-sighted at only eighteen months, Pollock's sight deteriorated thereafter and by the age of twenty-two he was completely blind, putting paid to his sporty life. Or so one would think. Not ten years later and Pollock is at the South Pole having refused to let his condition hinder his spirit of adventure.

But that's not the story.

In 2010, four weeks before his wedding, Pollock fell from an upstairs window, which resulted in paralysis from the waist down and as he tries to recover he suffers further setbacks with dangerous infections attacking his system. But testament to his determination, and to the strength of fiancée Simone George, Pollock pulled himself back from the brink...

While the director has uncovered some cute home footage of Pollock's childhood in Holywood, Co. Down, he understandably doesn't have the vast array of material available to him like Lucy Walker did when shooting champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce's road to recovery in last year's The Crash Reel, which is almost a sister movie. In its place, Whittaker opts for intimacy.

The director has a knack of pulling one into his very human story by simply sitting back and letting his well-chosen subjects do what he wants them to do; his non-obtrusive approach (which he also utilised to great effect in 2007's boxing documentary Saviours) creates an intimate atmosphere, which allows the audience to feel it's privy to some very private moments. Letting the camera run and run as Pollock makes those first attempts at walking puts the viewer right in that room.

Stirring and engaging stuff.