Film Review: “Olympia” (2018) ★★★★

There is one thing we must all be clear about – it is tremendously difficult to be an actor. It’s a pair of shoes not many would want to wear due to its precarious nature and the accompanying non-stop pressure. Some manage to effortlessly navigate the path while many try to find alternative ways of fighting the demons created by the choice of pursuing a creative career path. It’s always the journey that is worthwhile taking; the journey that provides no easy workarounds but is full of barriers and bumpy roads yet delivers the joys of a lifetime giving the opportunity to be surrounded by loving and caring fans who always admire the work of a good actor.

“Olympia” follows the eponymous actor who has redefined acting – Olympia Dukakis. The camera takes its aim at her, listens to her carefully as she shares her past revealing the side of her mother, her loving husband, and how she decided to come up with her own idea to play the roles she wanted. The documentary opens the life of Dukakis, her journey as a daughter, mother, wife and as an actor who had to battle her own self before becoming a legend. As she may disagree with the greatness of her achievements, director Harry Mavromichalis does not hesitate to pull the curtain down to show us one of the most fascinating actors to have graced the silver screen.

The beauty of “Olympia” is in its simplicity. It allows the viewer to see a top-notch actor from a very real, no frills perspective. She goes out for shopping, takes selfies, and does not mind crying or joking around. Indeed, she is an Oscar winner and recognized around the world but when she walks on the street, she is just an ordinary human being who does not put herself above anyone. However, there’s one particular scene that may potentially devastate the viewer; the scene in which she opens up about her drug addiction and how she once deliberately positioned herself in front of a moving truck hoping to end her life. On that day though, a kind woman saved her and that was the turning point for young Olympia, who became determined to put the dark side of her life behind.

“Olympia” shows us that no one is perfect and rightly so; we all have our own problems and face the challenges of life in our own way. However, it’s the war that is always ongoing and hidden beneath our strong nature that we must defeat to avoid a great tragedy. While we learn from Olympia Dukakis, we also laugh with her at the same time. The sense of humor she shares with the audience is sublime and infectious. And that comes across because of the well structured narrative that makes us aware of Olympia’s persona, letting the viewer grasp each aspect of it, and falling in love with her more than ever before.

That said, the importance of “Olympia” in the cinematic world is not because it talks about a celebrity or because she reminds us that even famous and rich people can cry. What the film achieves is expertly conveying the fact that there is no difference between us and the “stars” but the career they have chosen for themselves to entertain us. The film is funny, sad, touching, and informative. More importantly, it’s uncompromising and educational. Since we learn from Olympia Dukakis herself, we not just become a better person, we leave our dark side behind by beginning to nurture ourselves in the best ways possible.

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