The Finishers

Isabella Fels
The Finishers is a French sports drama that really tugged at my heartstrings. It tells the tale of a very special relationship between a father and his son. Julien has cerebral palsy and his father Paul doesn’t know how to cope with this reality. After much convincing Paul agrees to enter a triathlon with Julien in Nice. As they prepare for the contest the barriers between them break down and father and son become closer than ever.
Posted by: 
Isabella Fels on 02/05/2014
Looking down at the French Riviera from a mountain.
French riviera

The movie stands out for its scenery.


The characters in The Finishers, and in particular those of the main family, are well cast and matched. Fabien Heraud beautifully portrays Julien who is a 17 year old adolescent that has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He is an endearing character with a wicked sense of humour, who even gives the finger to a stranger who patronises him. At the start of the movie he spies on a naked girl showing us that like most young men he has a healthy interest in sex.

Julien’s father Paul is also well portrayed by Jacques Gamblin. He is a former triathlete who can barely look and talk to Julien, out of shame and embarrassment for his son’s condition. 

The race

Julien asks his father whether they can compete in a triathlon. His father initially turns him down but once he agrees their relationship really takes off.

To compete in the triathlon together Paul must run pushing Julien in his wheelchair and cycle with Julien sitting on a specially-made chair on the bike. In the swimming component of the competition Paul will pull Julien on a dinghy.

The structure and complexities of the family unit are done well. The preparation for the race brings a family together that has had such troubled and strained relationships. It is wonderful to see Paul soften towards his son as they both prepare for the big race, just as it is wonderful to see Julien’s face light up as he becomes closer to his father.

Julien’s mother, Claire, acts as a positive force throughout the movie by taking a strong interest in both her husband and son’s personal mission. She is there for them both during their courageous and awe inspiring journey


The movie stands out for its amazing sets and scenery, particularly those of the beautiful mountains of Nice and the French Riviera where the competition is held. Such great beauty helped me to be taken-in by the race. A scene where all the triathletes in black wetsuits look like clustered-together seals on the beach is a stand out. 

I could feel myself flying with the many race preparation scenes of Julien strapped in front of his father’s bike going around at top speed in the open French countryside.


The movie shows people with a disability in a strong and positive light. Julien, in particular, refuses to give up his soul to his disability. In competing in the triathlon with his father he pushes all expected boundaries. He has a tenacity and desire to live life to the full, even when confronted to meet many tough challenges.



Readers comments (1)

Great! Thank your for this beautiful and interesting review. Your articles cover many topics, Isabella, you're full of nuances. And I'm glad they have a place in Divine, it speaks wonders about your country.

Comment on this article