A charming love story set against the background of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, “Olympic Dreams” combines the atmosphere of the event and personal lives of those who have gathered in the athletes’ village to compete or assist. What more appropriate day could be selected for the film’s release than Valentine’s Day?
“Olympic Dreams” has been directed by Jeremy Teicher, who wrote the script with Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll. Pappas and Kroll also star in the film.
There couldn’t be a better choice for lead actress than Pappas, as she comes to the role of Penelope with first-hand experience. A Greek-American, in addition to being a writer and filmmaker, she holds the Greek National record in the 10,000 meters with a personal best of 31:36 set at the Rio Olympics.
The plot of the new film has Penelope, 22, who skis in the competition, falling for Ezra, 37, played by Kroll, a volunteer dentist who has the task of caring for Olympians who need their teeth looked after. This is not a blazing love affair, but a pleasing attraction between two people who meet under unusual circumstances.
Ezra, on the shy side, is already involved in an iffy romance with a break being taken at the insistence of his fiancée. He is unsure about what will happen. Ezra is a decent chap who is not out to seduce, but is smitten with Penelope despite personality differences. She is also attracted to him, but their feelings are not outspoken. Yet she is more aggressive in trying to elicit his affection. We see a step-by-step relationship building even though the situation is frustrating with its hesitant romantic moves.
What will ultimately happen? As the Olympic Games come to an end, the two have a more candid confrontation and decisions will have to be made. All is handled with charming subtlety and amusement.
The feelings that are being explored are in the context of Penelope competing unsuccessfully in the games along with striking photography that captures the dynamic setting. Lots of little touches add to the overall atmosphere, and one can admire the technique and care that has gone into creating this low-key but endearing film. An IFC Films release. Reviewed February 11, 2020.