Over the Limit 2017
Distributed by Film Movement
Directed by Marta Prus
DVD, color, 88 min.
Athletes, Bullying, Competitions, Psychology, Sports, Russia
Date Entered: 01/08/2019Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Before her retirement in 2017, Margarita Mamun was awarded the 2016 Olympic Gold Medal for rhythmic gymnastics, a rigorous athletic event that combines ballet, gymnastics, dance and hoop, ball, baton, and ribbon manipulation. By the age of 20, when this film was made, Mamun was already a celebrated Russian and European award winner and senior international elite competitor.
In this grueling documentary produced by Polish filmmaker Prus, herself a former rhythmic gymnast, the camera follows Mamun as she prepares for the Rio Olympics. To the untrained eye, her routines appear to be flawless. Her two coaches, however, see only faults which they ruthlessly and relentlessly criticize in verbally and emotionally abusive ways that will astonish most viewers. For her part, Mamun reacts little to the constant bullying, seeming to accept that this is the price of perfection, celebrity, and winning on the world stage.
This behind-the-scenes record of training for international competition is eye-opening. At one point in the film, one of the coaches tells Mamun she’s not a human, she’s an athlete, which seems to justify the personal boundaries that are repeatedly transgressed .