Review: Full Out

Ana Golja plays Ariana Berlin in Full Out

It’s pretty much a rule set in concrete around here that I must watch anything with Jennifer Beals. Full Out finally made it to Netflix, and I watched it immediately. The film is the inspiring true story of gymnast Ariana Berlin and her return to gymnastic greatness after a devastating car accident.

Ariana Berlin is in the movie, playing an assistant for UCLA gymnastics Coach Valorie Kondos Field (Beals). But the character Ariana Berlin is played in the movie by Ana Golja. During the final credits we see the real Coach Val and some of the other real gymnasts.

After Ariana was hurt in the car wreck, she went through a phase of self-pity. Her physical therapist Michelle (Asha Bromfield) very cleverly took her to watch her hip hop dance troupe. That’s when she started to reclaim her life.

Ariana began helping the dancers with their moves. Then she began doing some of the moves herself. Then she began sneaking into the gym at night to work on the bars and mats. One of her dreams was to make it into the UCLA gymnastic program under the direction of Coach Val. After much work, she was able to perform before Coach Val and was accepted into the program.

Ariana has the innate ability to plot out biomechanical movements like a physicist planning orbits around the earth. She can visualize motion, twists, elevations, and more in determining how a dance move or a gymnastics feat could be achieved. All her years of gymnastics training were a boon to the dancers, who were achieving new heights with her help.

Coach Val found out that Ariana was doing gymnastics all day and dancing all night. There was no resting in the schedule. So Coach Val told Ariana to choose one or the other. Ariana made a choice that was entirely her own.

This movie was not well written. Murky motivations and transitions made it feel jerky and uneven. I knew the film was an inspirational story of recovery. Because I knew where the story was headed, it wasn’t too annoying that it didn’t get there in the most beautifully told way. I enjoyed it in spite of its failings. Jennifer Beals was the bonus point.

Human beings can accomplish almost anything if they set their hearts and minds on it. Ariana Berlin is an outstanding example of that.

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