Meredith and I have a fantastic idea for a movie pitch. We (and I know we aren’t alone) are so tired of all these movies that come out with the same old prescription. A protagonist. A conflict. A resolution. A poignant and perfectly positioned fade out that leaves the viewers confident they just saw a “story.”
Boring. Banal. Been done. Here’s our idea. Working title: “The Gymnast”
April is a gymnast. And a good one. A very good one actually. She is 16 and has been in the business of acrobatics since she was her 4. Her parents are very supportive, but they know where to draw the line. Her homework and family always come first. She has a younger sister, Audra, who is not very athletic, but has found her passion in the art of bassoon. The two sisters bicker over who plays the Playstation when, but other than that – they are best friends and eachother’s biggest fans. There is a lovely scene when April misses a huge practice before the American Championships to be there (on the front row) for Audra’s “Spring Fling” concert at her middle school. During her solo, a 4-bar chromatic spree, April has tears in her eyes and knows that she made the right decision.
Come 4 weeks later, and it’s the Olympic Trials. She has been working for this moment for her entire life, but in a very cool kind of way. She loves all of her fellow nationally-recognized gymnists. She has been interviewed a couple of times by BBC-America and ESPN 2, but always cut the questioning short for fear that her mother would be kept up too late.
She does great. There will be several musical montages featuring her grace and youth on the floor routine. She nails the beam but slips a bit on the double bars. Well, actually not a little bit, she falls off during one of her flippity-floppity bits and it’s one of those bits that she should have easily nailed but…people make mistakes. It is widely understood, that she is out of the running. Her counterparts, who we have gotten to know throughout the plot, hurt for her. But her knowledge of her own integrity and unshakable self-assurance prevail. “It’s okay,” she says. “I just really hope you guys are okay with your perfomances.” But she says it in a seriously, genuine kind of way.
She comes in 10th. But cries as she is clapping for Katie and Gretchen who made it through. They really did bring it.
The last scene is a warming dinner scene where Audra, April, and the mom and dad fight over french fries at the local diner and all decide to splurge on milk shakes.
As the credits roll, you ask yourself “Where was the conflict?” and then you realize it is only within yourself. It is only within you.