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Beneath The Radar: White Palms

Director Szabolcs Hajdu has dodged the sports movie clichés with White Palms, instead using his gymnastic narrative to flex his considerable filmmaking muscle in a riveting drama that is technically ...

Director Szabolcs Hajdu has dodged the sports movie clichés with White Palms, instead using his gymnastic narrative to flex his considerable filmmaking muscle in a riveting drama that is technically flawless to boot.

Champion Hungarian gymnast Miklos (Miklos Zoltan Hadju) moves to Calgary to coach Olympic hopefuls. He begins to submit his students to the same brutal training regime that he suffered as a youngster in his homeland. Having struck one of the athletes, Miklos is re-assigned to coach the immensely talented but difficult Kyle (Kyle Shewfelt). The two strike up an unlikely friendship but must face-off in competition.

The story here is semi-autobiographical, being based on the experiences of director Hadju’s brother Miklos, who takes the lead role. It’s something of a shock to discover that he, like co-star Shewfelt, is a gymnast and not a professional actor. The two come across naturally and generate incredible dynamism, especially in the intensely competitive scenes.

Director Hajdu has adopted a non-linear narrative to tell the story of the psychologically complex athletes and it works perfectly, slowly feeding in the determining factors in Miklos erratic behaviour through flash-back. Allied to the outstanding cinematography, which lend the gymnastic sequences a beauty and artistry, it makes for a gripping spectacle.   

White Palms is screening on 15 and 17 August at Filmhouse.

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