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Paris P. Pickard,
Anthony Michael Jones
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The talented Jane Hawkins (Dreya Weber, Lovely & Amazing) was an impressive gymnast at the top of her game until a devastating injury ended her career. Now she pours the passion, strength and discipline that once fueled her sport into maintaining both a tedious job as a massage therapist and a loveless marriage. A chance meeting leads sets Jane on a new path: performing a CirqueDu Soleil style aerial act with a mysterious and beautiful dancer named Serena (Addie Yungmee). Each of them are illuminated by the presence of the other, but there are distractions. Jane is distressed by her lack of children while Serena is a closeted lesbian who tackles stereotypes with being an adopted Korean daughter of Jewish parents. As the stunning pair prepares to audition their act for a Las Vegas show, the gravitational pull between the two women becomes increasingly unavoidable... A visually compelling film that challenges notions of both ability and identity, THE GYMNAST is foremost a story about ... Written by
"The Gymnast" unfolds in short shots and short scenes, revealing its characters and message over time. The spare editing is accompanied by a beautiful, simple score. This intimate approach is wonderful for feeling like you're on a path of discovery as much as the characters are.
The spare approach is also its drawback; there are a few scenes that are confusing because they don't have enough context. There are some decisions made by the characters that seemed rather flip until I watched the interviews that were in the bonus materials. I'm glad I did, because the actors' descriptions of their motivations gave me a much more well- rounded understanding of the film overall.
Aside from the story itself, it was wonderful to see women so comfortable and strong in their own bodies. The shooting was very tastefully done; very matter-of-fact. One has the feeling of seeing a love story and a life story unfold, not a voyeuristic sleaze film. The physicality of the athletes -- their realness -- is a great contrast to the sometimes ethereal nature of the plot.
Not a film I'll need to see again anytime soon, since the storyline is simple but its delivery is powerful enough to stay with me for a long time.
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