The low-budget indie was shot on location during the 2018 Winter Olympics
The most intriguing thing about “Olympic Dreams” is that it exists.
It’s a super-low-budget guerrilla work of true indie filmmaking, shot at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
And I’m glad that it exists, even if it doesn’t quite rise above the stunt nature of its making.
Actual Olympian Alexi Pappas plays Penelope, a reserved cross-country skier who keeps to herself but seems anxious to break out of her shell. Comedian Nick Kroll plays Ezra, a dentist who has traveled to the games to provide dental services to athletes living in Olympic Village. The two strike up an unexpected friendship that unexpectedly becomes something more.
So, yes, “Olympic Dreams” feels very much like “Lost in Translation” with a unique setting.Get Brad Keefe's film reviews delivered to your inbox every Friday: Sign up for our daily newsletter
Directed and shot by Pappas’ husband, Jeremy Teicher, the film works best when it’s showing the day-to-day lives of athletes who are fulfilling a lifetime of training.
The scene where Ezra and Penelope meet is set in a cafeteria, and the moment plays out in all it’s mundane, awkward glory. Ezra apparently never got the memo that people wearing headphones wish to be left alone.
Kroll shows a more serious side, and it’s a promising turn. He’s naturally funny, but could have more dramatic chops if he chose to stretch in that direction. Pappas not being a trained actor has its ups and downs. Sometimes it feels more natural and authentic; sometimes you really remember she’s not a professional actor.
The plot is thin and light, feeling very improvisational at times. And when an unlikely romance pops up between Ezra and Penelope, it feels somewhat off. Strangely, they had better chemistry as friends.
The look behind the scenes at the Games is the most interesting part of “Olympic Dreams.” It’s almost a shame it wasn’t just a documentary.