Tuesday, 30 September 2014
The Gymnast (2006)
A world-class gymnast in her youth, Jane Hawkins suffered a career ending injury at the age of 22. Her life never really recovered. Two decades later she works in a job she doesn't seem to enjoy, and is married to a man she doesn't seem to much like all that much. She sinks most of her energy into attempts to have a child, but without any success.
Ennui eventually drives her to attend a gymnastics class for adults, and the instructor there asks her to join another woman to put together an aerial gymnastics show: something flashy and impressive that could play in a casino in Vegas. Jane's not entirely sure about that idea, but she does enjoy the physical experience of it and soon commits to the project with a passion.
When the instructor has to leave town due to a family emergency, Jane and her partner Serena continue to meet and train together. As they develop their act and overcome hurdles together, Jane slowly begins to realise that their bond goes beyond just friendship.
Because yes, this is a film with a lesbian romance in it. But if you're looking for titillation, you'll be disappointed. The core of the film is on the emotional journey of the characters - mostly Jane, but to a lesser extent Serena - as they confront their self-doubts and the things that have held them back in their lives. This is a film about letting go of the things you can't have in your life and embracing the things you can. It's no accident that the film closes with Jane performing a gymnastics routine for the pure joy of it.
This is a solid film with some stunning dance and gymnastics moves sprinkled throughout. It certainly won't be to all tastes, given the subject matter, but it is easy to see why it won a bunch of LGBT film awards - it's a cut above the average romantic drama.