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Not human, but athlete

Over the limit
Regissør: Marta Prus

Variety called this documentary about a young Russian gymnast the "sports documentary The Black Swan". 


Over the limit had its premiere at IDFA and immediately received a lot of attention from both the audience and critics. The film deserves cinema distribution, and considering the reviews of Hollywood Reporter and Variety, the film should have been a possible Oscar candidate.

Athlete Portrait. This is a finely polished film in which all elements meet the same goal of getting as close as possible to the protagonist Margarita Mamun, a participant in the Russian team in rhythmic gymnastics. Variety called the movie the "sports documentary The Black Swan».

Over the limit is an intense portrait of a young, vulnerable woman and her physical and mental trials in the fight for perfectionism and reaching the goal of joining the Summer Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Margarita is in a continuous competitive situation against her own team-mate Yana Kudryavtseva, and the two performers' performances are set against each other from the first scene and right to the final scene.

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Beauty. In a clean, observant style and with a beautiful camera craft done by photographer Adam Suzin, we follow the film's protagonist at all times of the day. It is as if the camera is Margarita's only friend, without ever turning to it or saying a single word. It doesn't take long before we as the audience fully identify with her. The music, composed by Mikolai Stroinski, also expresses Margarita's feelings, nervousness and fears.

It is clear that director Marta Prus has stuck to his vision to the point. In fact, we don't get to see a single gymnastic number in its entirety, only short sequences in which the endless beauty of Margarita's pursuit is expressed – a grip that keeps us on the alert throughout the film.

Cinderella. We feel with Margarita every time she is scolded, both by her personal trainer Amina Zaripova and by herself Mrs. Irina Viner, the head coach of the Russian national team. Wines is not only the only coach who has managed to nurture the entire five Olympic gold winners, she is also married to Russia's richest man. This woman is something close to sadistic, we will judge from her use of words. In fact, the associations go to Cinderella; Irina is a perfect personification of the evil stepmother – and not only with her demeanor, but also with her appearance. If there is something good about this woman, at least the filmmakers did not want to bring it up: The only thing we hear from her is tirades of a type that is otherwise rarely witnessed. With bombardment of spears, she mocks Margarita, who only answers with tearful eyes. Irina screams, "Why are you trembling?" Margarita defends, "I'm not trembling." Irina glances back: "Shut up! You just shivered like that! Go to hell! You are all through muck! Go and fuck yourselfWhen Margarita complains of great pain, coach Amina calls out to her: "You're not a human! You're an athlete! "Irina adds:" The whole Russian honor lies on you! You have to be trained like a dog! ”

It is as if the camera is Margarita's only friend, without ever turning to it or saying a single word.

Psychological violence. Music and clips (Maciej Pawlinski) are superbly intertwined, and almost in unbearable excitement we follow when Margarita goes out on the mat. We can hardly cope anymore with her being exposed to more psychological pressure and violence. At any moment, we expect another outburst of fury from Irina – but as a miracle, fate turns and Margarita doesn't make a single mistake. Amina kisses her all over her face and does not appear to be the bad step sister yet, on the contrary, she shows Margarita almost a motherly love. Irina still groans in the background: "Stop licking her!" Margarita asks with a trembling voice as she can be free for the rest of the day – the only thing she wants is to get away.

Lonely provider. Only halfway into the movie does the Olympic theme emerge, while Margarita is on a short trip to the town to visit her family on her birthday. The apartment is luxuriously furnished to a Russian standard, and we understand that it is Margarita's contribution that makes this possible. Observing the tourer with her family is strange – they cannot possibly understand what she is going through on a daily basis, and even in these familiar surroundings she remains a stranger.

On the way back to the fitness center, Margarita gets sick and physically ill. At the same time, she learns, through a secret telephone conversation with her father, that he is deadly ill. When Irina learns this, she roars: "Who allowed her to talk to her father ?!" At this point, Margarita cannot possibly turn. Amina says, true, it's only 2 – 3 months for the Olympics – and then it's over: "Give it all you have!" Margarita follows her words – and no one seems to care about the price she has to pay.

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Margareta Hruza
Hruza is a Czech / Norwegian filmmaker and regular critic of Ny Tid.

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