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‘Wind’ (PG-13)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 11, 1992

"Wind" is about the huff and puff that's needed to win the America's Cup regatta. It's about tacking faster than your Australian competitors. It's about winning for your country and yourself -- to stirring music. It's also about an hour too long.

The problem with movies about yachting, mountain climbing, surfing, ice-skating or any sporting-interest drama is coming up with a story that doesn't looked tacked on. In Carroll Ballard's two-hour-plus yarn, Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey do their darndest to inject a little love and temporary estrangement into this windblown affair.

An erstwhile sailing partner of Modine's, Grey now wants to retire and study aerodynamics. Modine's been invited to be part of skipper Cliff Robertson's American team at Newport, R.I. He wants her to follow him. As for Brahmin boatman Robertson, winning that world trophy matters more than anything, family and crew be damned.

But winning isn't everything. You have to deserve to win. You have to love those around you. You have to . . . Excuse me, I have to lean over the side for a moment.

Yachting buffs are likely to thrill to the details given to battling opponents in the best-of-seven competition, and building the perfect hull, and winning that cup back when you've lost it. Fans of movie spectacle will not be disappointed either. Cinematographer John Toll (and his crew) ably invoke the unfurled excitement, and the sea-shimmering beauty, of being on the water. He also captures the awesome aridity of Deadman's Flat, Nev., where Modine, Grey and boat designer Stellan Skarsgard perfect their winning hull. This is one movie where, if you plan to see it, you'd better not wait for the video.

But even special-interest audiences will have to sit out the narrative doldrums. All too often, "Wind" just sits there, waiting for a breeze. If you've got the lungs and the desire, maybe you can help blow it along. But that's no way to sail.

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