Fehér tenyér | White Palms
DIRECTOR: Szabolcs Hajdu | WRITER: Szabolcs Hajdu | CAST: Zoltán Miklós Hajdu, Orion Radies, Silas Wind Radies, Gheorghe Dinica, Kyle Shewfelt | HUNGARY
A tedious story about a long-in-the-tooth Hungarian gymnast, Miklós Dongó, who’s hired to coach a junior gymnastics team in Calgary, intercut with flashbacks to Dongó’s childhood training under an abusive, even sadistic gymnastics coach. When Dongó strikes one of his students — it’s the kind of behavior he was accustomed to — he’s reassigned to coach a pouty teenaged prodigy who’s getting ready for the World Gymnastics Championships. Of course, Dongó has himself decided to enter the championships, setting up a dramatic teacher-student rivalry that never really materializes. The film hopes to coast by with non-actors/real gymnasts in the leads, but the gymnastics aren’t enough to sustain the film and only Orion and Silas Radies, playing Dongó aged 10 and 13, make an impression. In fact, it was really only the flashback sequences that held my interest — fleshed out they would make for a very interesting feature-length film. The movie ends with Dongó and his protégé at the World Gymnastics Championships intercut with flashbacks to 13-year-old Dongó’s disastrous stint with a second-rate Soviet travelling circus: it left me yawning. Bizarrely, there’s an unexplained coda in which Dongó, now just another gymnast, rehearses a number with Cirque du Soleil in their Las Vegas theater.