The Oscar Project Reviews
Once in a while, a story comes along that makes you take a step back and try to figure out what is wrong with humanity. Athlete A is one of those stories and while you might know some of the big names, you surely don't know the whole story.
Anyone who has watched the Summer Olympic games in the last 30 years probably knows about the success of the American women's gymnastic teams. Longtime coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi have produced countless gold medals in the event starting with Marylou Retton winning the individual all around in 1984 to the most recent games in 2016 with the self-appointed "Final Five."
If you've been paying attention to the news of the last several years, you know the name of Larry Nassar, the man convicted on child pornography charges in 2017, but perhaps better known for his role as an athletic trainer with USA gymnastics. What this film covers is the systemic abuse and cover up that has been going on in this organization for decades.
Just as with any other organization where people gain more and more power and influence, they want to keep that power and will do whatever it takes to do so. If that comes at the cost of young people, specifically young girls, so be it. The documentary covers the fear that these girls felt at being a part of the Karolyi training team and how Nassar was the only "nice" one at Karolyi Ranch in Texas, gaining their trust by talking to them like a normal person and even sneaking them candy when the Karolyi's weren't watching.
My hat goes off to the reports of The Indianapolis Star who first broke the story in 2016. They were willing to tell the story based on the facts they had at the time, and ultimately their reporting encouraged several women to speak out publicly, asserting that they had been victims of Nassar as well. Ultimately, more than 250 women and girls have accused Nassar of some form of sexual assault, including some of the biggest names in the sport from the last several Olympic Games.
Films in general should make you think, and documentaries are no exception. Athlete A will reshape the way you think about elite gymnastics in this country and perhaps change the way you think about these young Olympic heroes, all the more powerful after learning what they had to endure to get to the top of the podium.
Athlete A is streaming now on Netflix.
9 out of 10