This snooze-inducing biopic of the gold-medal-winning skater looks as if it were produced by an Olympic propaganda committee composed of Siberian inmates forced to hard labor behind a sports-mythologizing camera.
Despite being abandoned by her father, toddler Oskana Baiul (Kathleen Stupp) receives the support of her mom Marina (Susanna Thompson) and grandmother (Leeza Vinnichenko) when she begins ice skating. Under the tutelage of star-groomer Stanislav (Miguel Ferrer), Oskana blossoms into a mini-champion
lacking only self-confidence. Her career ascent is slowed by grief over the death of her grandma and, a few years later, her mother's terminal illness. When Stanislav leaves to work in Canada, he entrusts Oksana (played as a teenager by Monica Keena) to the care of coach Galina (Sonja Lanzener), a
big hearted Odessan woman eager to nurture her ward's skating talent while treating her as one of her own children. Struggling to separate her personal and professional relationships with her surrogate mom, Oksana is partnered with another Galina protegee, Viktor Petrenko (Stephen Blake). After
winning senior Ukrainian nationals, Oksana snatches a surprise victory at the world championships in Prague in 1993. Then in 1994's winter Olympics, after a painful practice injury, Oksana squeaks past favorite Nancy Kerrigan (Erica Shannon) to win the gold medal.
Underdeveloped and underproduced, this biopic is so amateurishly helmed by veteran hack Charles Jarrott that it resembles a tribute put together by members of Oksana's grade-school fan clubs and plays out like one long pep talk about beating the odds. As dramatic endorsement for the ice sports, it
lacks vigor and glitz; it's just a bare-bones fairy tale about a Soviet match girl whose fairy godmother gets her to the Olympic ball in a skating costume (made out of chicken feathers, apparently). By the time the real-life (and supremely confident) Baiul makes a guest appearance as herself, one
has serious doubts about all that guff regarding her crises of faith. Admire her or not, when the real Oksana glides by effortlessly at the climax, she overwhelms all the preceding melodramatic pap that's supposed to represent her life. This uninspired fanzine event could have profited from a
little of Oksana's killer instinct. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: This snooze-inducing biopic of the gold-medal-winning skater looks as if it were produced by an Olympic propaganda committee composed of Siberian inmates forced to hard labor behind a sports-mythologizing camera. Despite being abandoned by her father, tod… (more)