Intimate Looks at Olympic Village Life Steal the Show in "Olympic Dreams"
A Quick Film Review
Watching 2019's Olympic Dreams - co-written and starring comedian Nick Kroll and actress and Rio 2016 Olympian Alexi Pappas - is bittersweet, peeking behind-the-scenes at a slice of previous Olympic life, through the lens of a fictional friendship in an Olympic Village.
As cross-country skier Penelope, Pappas offers a familiar doe-eyed portrayal of a perhaps too-sheltered athlete. Her early 'meet-cute' moments with Kroll's Ezra, a last-minute volunteer dentist for the athletes, are awkward yet promising.
Will they find romance? It's complicated...Ezra has a fiancee (maybe?), and Penelope is lonely and at-a-loss for a sense of what to do now that her competition is done. It's at times hard to buy Penelope's innocence - is there really no social support system for U.S. athletes from Team USA for her to leverage? Could she really not have known who Gus Kenworthy is, arguably one of the more famous athletes at those Games? Surely her experience in global and domestic training and competition has steeled her a bit for the environment of an Olympics?
That plot is a mere sideshow, though, to the real star of Olympic Dreams - a look inside an Olympic Village and the dormitory life of an athlete. We see a gym, a laundry room, the cafeteria, a recreation room, all with slices of athlete interactions. Particularly charming is Kenworthy, with Penelope, using the cafeteria to scope out potential hookups and plan a room party. (It is just like a dorm!) And, we get a cross-section of Olympians - Andreas Veerpalu, Marjolein Decroix, Nico Porteous, amongst others - as guest appearances in the dental office and other facilities. Freestyle skier Morgan Schild appears as a dormmate to Penelope, shining along with Kenworthy as comfortable in front of the camera.
Current pandemic protocols will assumedly make Beijing 2022 Olympic Village life more austere, as was seen at Tokyo 2020, making Olympic Dreams feel a bit like nostalgia for a viewer. It's unclear where the Oly Art program stands now given Covid-19, but hopefully future Games' art-in-residences offer more unique insights into the stories of Olympians. Olympic Dreams had me wanting more!