Review: The Weight of Perfection

Written and directed by Anabelle D. Munro and Leanne Melissa Bishop, who both star in the film, a dangerous game of fire begins when an Elite level gymnast and her Coach become entangled in a web of psychological damage. Also starring: Hayden Hishaw, Wyatt Oleff, Merit Leighton, Kelly Perine and Candice Clark.

For anyone who’s seen it, this may immediately call back to Netflix’s harrowing documentary Athlete A; while it follows a different path, it relates easily to the vulnerable position girls find themselves in, especially in the world of gymnastics. The way that these filmmakers deal with the issue of eating disorders, undue pressure and expectations is exceptional. It’s remarkably both subtle and overt, it brings a horror style physicality to the issue, while keeping the actual interactions to a minimum. The latter being an undeniably clever and observant choice, it captures how comments can be just the slightest hint and yet devastatingly harmful. It succinctly explores how easy it is to set young girls down the wrong path, into hugely unhealthy relationships with food, leading to eating disorders, mental health issues and warped ideals of perfection.

It’s fascinating how these filmmakers took their personal knowledge of the struggle and instead of going for a drama, expressed the horrors in an inventive way. It gives a sincere tension and sharpness, adding moments of terror or imagination, they’re sporadic but permeate the entire tone of the film, creating something darker. It does hold a touch long on one or two of those scenes, but that doesn’t undercut the emotions they’re communicating. The Weight of Perfectionuses a tense, precipice of an atmosphere to show the constant knife edge young gymnasts exist upon.

Hayden Hishaw leads the film well, it’s a complex and heavy issue, one that may be utterly relevant to those her age but no less a challenge to portray. She captures the internalised elements of the struggle, using few words but expressing the ordeal effectively. Leanne Melissa Bishop provides the other side of that story, accentuating the issues while too busy dealing with her own to realise. It creates a classic look at taking the time to explore someone else’s perspective and understand the effect your words have. While Anabelle D. Munro’s character shows how parents always have an undue influence on the path of their kids and the wrong attitudes lead to dangerous habits.

The Weight of Perfection takes an insider knowledge of eating disorders and gymnastics to show just how vulnerable and easily influenced young girls are. It has an inventive style to use horror to express how important and deeply affecting these issues are. Using both subtle and overt choices was a clever way to explore the subject in a quick and effective route. Showing how easily young women’s self-esteem is chipped away and can lead to life-long struggles, as well as the importance of making the right decisions to avoid it.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

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