The Bronze

The Bronze


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

After years of suffering manchildren at the cinema, we are now subjected to the womanchild. Sadly, the change of sex and reduction of the arrested development to the age of a tantrum-throwing five-year-old doesn't bring anything new to the joke.

Hope Ann Greggory once won the bronze of the title at the 2004 Olympics and she has been living off it in her home town of Amherst, Ohio, ever since, growing into a foul-mouthed spoilt brat of the highest order - and, in an early indication that no prisoners will be taken by in terms of taste by writing partners Rauch and her husband Winston, we meet her as she masturbates to her own performance.

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Years may have passed, but she still lives with her unfeasibly tolerant postman dad (Gary Cole), still wears her USA tracksuit and spends her days ripping off cash from dad's mail, swanning around town and, occasionally, swinging by her old gym to look wistfully at her former coach leaving the premises. What she needs, of course, is to Learn A Lesson and one is coming down the track in the form of rising gymnastics star Maggie Townsend (Hayley Lu Richardson), a 16-year-old local gal who idolises Hope.

Hope, of course, can't bear the thought of any sort of rival to her legend and rebuffs her, but when news breaks of her coach committing suicide and a letter arrives in post promising $500,000 to Hope if she coaches the girl, things change. Interestingly, there is nothing in the letter about Maggie having to win, and so Hope sets about trying to destroy all her chances by feeding her up on junk food and encouraging her to think about training rather than doing it. On the sidelines to make sure Hope also Learns A Love Lesson, are fellow former gymnast Lance Tucker (Sebastian Stan) and the son of the gym owner Ben Lawfort (Thomas Middleditch), the only character in the film, if you discount Bradley the goldfish, who isn't actively irritating.

Bryan Buckley's direction isn't a problem but the characters are pushed too close to the edge. Just as we are supposed to swallow the idea that no one has punched Hope in the face up to now, we are also intended to accept without question that 16-year-old Maggie (Richardson looks older, which doesn't help) has such limited life experience that she doesn't know what camel toe is (she obviously needs to watch more below-par indie comedies). It's true that Hope is so self-destructive in her awfulness that a modicum of sympathy is generated but the idea feels stretched like a gymnast's leotard over a hippo.

The foul-mouthed nature of half the film - during which the writers seem to be under the mistaken idea that if one swear word is funny, then two must be doubly so and so on - also sits uncomfortably with the cutesy cliche romance portion of proceedings and is likely to appeal to an entirely different audience. That is not to say that there is nothing to laugh at. A midpoint sex sequence is hilarious and probably the most inventive you'll see this year, and Rauch knows how to deliver a good one-liner, but one or two good 'sketches' do not make a runtime, especially one that canters off to 107 minutes.

Reviewed on: 24 Jan 2015
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A bitter former gymnast takes up a coaching role on the promise of cash.

Director: Bryan Buckley

Writer: Melissa Rauch, Winston Rauch, Winston Rauch

Starring: Melissa Rauch, Gary Cole, Haley Lu Richardson, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan, Cecily Strong, Dale Raoul, Ellery Sprayberry, Ben Rauch, Sherry Hudak, Heidi Lewandowski, Stephanie Bertoni, Dave Durch, Kiana Madani, Stefanie Satchik

Year: 2015

Runtime: 108 minutes

Country: US


Sundance 2015

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