Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Jane (Dreya Weber) is married to an insensitive man in David (David De Simone).  How do I know that David is insensitive before even getting a chance to see the man or hear him speak?  Because when Dreya comes home after a long hard day’s work as a professional masseuse, we can here the sounds of a football game playing in the background.  In movies, if a man watches football and it’s not football movie, then the chances that he’s an insensitive clod is very high.  Sure, I may know that play action on third and long is silly or that one should never throw into the flat against a cover two, but that knowledge doesn’t make me insensitive.  Buying my wife a Dirt Devil for her birthday might qualify for some sensitivity training, but knowing that stacking eight in the box against an empty backfield is a recipe for disaster, does not.  Somebody’s gotta stand up for the football lovers out there.

Jane is a forty-three-year old, incredibly fit masseuse who at one time was a world class competitive gymnast.  Those days being long behind her, she struggles through life on anti-depressants, exists in a loveless relationship with a husband who doesn’t appreciate a damn thing, and worst yet, won’t grant her fading ability to have a child.  On a whim Jane sees a posting for an advanced gymnastics class and decides to attend, but watching that only brought back bad memories so she exits stage left.  But before she can leave, the lady running the class, Nicole (Mam Smith), recognizes her immediately from her glorious past and invites her to a little thing she’s putting together.

When Jane gets to the spot she sees the enchanting Serena (Addie Yungmee) practicing some dance moves which has Jane simply mesmerized.  When Nicole makes it to the location she informs the women that she hopes to create a Las Vegas style aerial gymnastic act, ala Cirque De Soleil, with the three of them as it’s central leads.

It’s all good until tragedy strikes Nicole forcing her to depart the trio, leaving the two women to practice together as a duo.  Though Jane isn’t gay, she’s certainly attracted to lithe and lovely Serena, who is quite gay.  Combine this with a husband who is becoming increasingly distant and the prodding of her former college gymnastics teammate Denise (Allison Mackie) one thing kind of leads to another.  Now with a big performance for a Las Vegas showman coming up, Jane’s husband becoming completely recalcitrant in reaffirming his love for his wife, and Serena now swearing her true to love Jane, we have complications galore.

First thing allow me to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  I recently complained about another gay movie I had just seen (hey, it’s a gay movie!) in ‘Coffee Date’, which was really funny but didn’t have any real characters.  Not so with ‘The Gymnast’ as the characters in this film were about as real and as tangible as any film I’ve recently seen, with the possible exception of David the careless husband, even though he did have the best line in the movie.  Credit certainly needs to be directed to the films writer / director Ned Farr who has taken a subject that should have no interest to but a select few and made it completely accessible to anyone who chooses to see this very well made film.  To explain what I mean, in Zoe Cassavetes ‘Broken English’, I lamented that since I’m not a thirty something single white woman looking for love perhaps the movie just wasn’t made for me, which could be the reason why I didn’t care for it much.  Allow me to inform you that I have even less in common with a sexually confused, professionally challenged, forty something white woman in a failing marriage, but yet the character of Jane’s problems were real to me and I was able to sympathize with her character, even though her character wasn’t without fault.

The film was filled with great, yet subtle understated performances and allow me to say unashamedly that if actress Addie Yungmee is gay for real… what.a.shame.  What an amazingly lovely and talented woman who look great on my other arm.  Of course I’m joking… those sensitivity classes don’t start ‘til next Monday. 

I did think the character of David was the least developed and the most confused.  It was hard to get a grip on where he was coming from and I  always laugh at the whole experimentation thing friend Allison was telling Jane about the time they experimented with their tongues down each other’s throat back in college.  You see I can’t get away with saying I experimentally tongued some dude in college.  Just typing that felt wrong. Anyway, I was surprised how much I enjoyed ‘The Gymnast’, a true film about real characters that hits almost all of the right notes.

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