The story of how the movie Olympic Dreams was made is more compelling than the movie itself.
Director Jeremy Teicher, comedian Nick Kroll, and Olympic runner Alexi Pappas all ran around the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. Their movie may be a blend of fiction and reality because they had got intimate, behind-the-scenes access through the Olympic Artist-in-Residence program. Pappas plays cross-country skier Penelope; Kroll plays volunteer dentist Ezra. The 2 meet during downtime at the games and start a hesitant but sweet romance.
The trio takes us everywhere the games site, from the athletes’ village and therefore the dining hall to the venues where real-life competitors are preparing for his or her events, as varied as a skeleton, curling and ice dancing.
The guerrilla-style approach is ambitious. The access is incredible. The film itself, however, is a smaller amount so.
Olympic Dreams depicts the emotions of loneliness and isolation which will linger when you’re halfway around the world, separated from all that’s comfortable and familiar. It also explores with honesty and clarity the sorts of quick and unexpected friendships that will develop therein kind of unusual situation. In doing so, it’s perhaps understated to a fault, and with dialogue that always seems unscripted and a touch lifeless. Pappas features a natural screen presence together with her wide eyes and wild hair, and therefore the multitalented Kroll continues to enhance as he reveals his dramatic instincts. However, the romantic tension which is aiming here never develops fully and leaves too many poignant moments. And neither of them is totally up for the confessions of the movie’s big climax.
Still, it’s hard to not appreciate the independent spirit at work here, the inspiration and therefore the hustle to form it happen. We get enough glimpses of varied Olympians from around the world, though, that it causes you to wonder what a documentary may need to be seemed like with this type of access instead. Maybe they’ll roll in the hay all again, through a special quite lens, in Beijing in 2022.