Olga – Film Review

When Ukraine declared its independence in 91, Russia was disturbed by this situation, and for 30 years, darkness fell on Ukraine’s rightful independence. No matter how hard Ukraine tried to stand up in this process, due to the pressures of Moscow, it could not reach the peace and prosperity it sought. The parties had come face to face many times. Russia tried to solve its purpose through political methods, with the names it placed in the Ukrainian parliament and even in the presidential seat. But the people got tired of these political wars and revolted. Realizing that they could no longer find a solution with political games, Moscow brought its heavy weapon to the stage: the Civil War. Ukraine won this match, which led to terrible stories in the squares. As a result, Moscow’s puppet Yanukovych fled to Russia. Going to a new election, Ukraine gave its message clearly and unequivocally by choosing Zelensky, who adopted western thoughts. However, this message did not please Russia. Thus, Russia played its final trump card: the invasion. The fire of the ongoing invasion has been burning since 2014. In the 8 years that have passed, many people’s lives have changed completely. Olga is just one of them.

Let’s briefly touch on the subject… Olga is a 15-year-old young athlete living with dreams of winning an Olympic medal. Olga, who uses her right because her father is a Swiss citizen, goes to Switzerland and tries to enter the national team. But when she goes to Switzerland to fight for the medal, events erupt in her hometown of Ukraine. Events that start as miscellaneous events turn into a field battle over time. The fact that Olga’s mother is a journalist makes her an essential part of the civil war. Likewise, her friends in the Ukrainian national team, whom she left, are constantly going to the square, which starts to confuse Olga. Believing that she will get the gold medal, Olga, unfortunately, cannot focus on the Olympics due to the events in her hometown.

Olga, Elie Grappe’s feature film debut, was Switzerland’s Oscar nominee. Although it is not technically a high-level job, I have to say that I like creative editing used from time to time. I also found the simplicity of the director’s way of telling the story and the close-ups quite successful. Unfortunately, the only part of the film that grinned technically was how the events in Ukraine were transferred to the screen. Some of them are very sharp and appear on the screen simultaneously, disrupting the flow in places. I have to say that the best part of the movie is the acting. However, I thought the film, all made up of professional and award-winning athletes, would contain much more amateur acting. But Anastasiia Budiashkina and the others did a fantastic job.

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I loved the parts that the movie tried to focus on, especially as a citizen of Ukraine. The result, in conclusion, is open to discussion, which makes the film valuable. When the events started in 2014, people took to the streets for their country’s independence. Just like Gezi in Turkey. However, there is a significant tonal difference between Gezi and Kyiv. Even though there were severe clashes in Gezi, what happened in Ukraine was like a war movie. The country’s pro-Russian government has officially declared war on its people, and the squares have turned into a place where people die one by one. So much so that after a point, snipers started shooting people.

In the movie, the square begins as an isolated event. We see it as an evening gathering where people gather in the square in the evenings, chanting slogans and singing songs together. Olga can easily follow the events from afar until this period. But when things get serious, Olga starts having a hard time focusing. There are actually 2 details that are important here and need to be talked about. First, Olga blindly agrees to renounce her Ukrainian citizenship to be on the Swiss national team. The main reason for this is what I wrote in my post here. Second, Ukraine is a place where your possibilities are limited, especially if you live in small towns. As a country overshadowed by Russia, they never achieved the prosperity they wanted. Because of these impossibilities, Olga gets bored, and she starts dreaming of going west. She also knows that Western countries’ possibilities are unlimited. We see this a lot in the movie. She is always curious to show her friends and her mother the opportunities where she goes.

The second important thing is the love for the country. Halfway through the movie, Olga, dying to escape from Ukraine, cannot remain indifferent to what is happening in her country. In fact, Olga, who throughout the movie knows that she can win an Olympic medal, even risks giving up everything after a point. And she’s giving up. So the question the film puts here is really debatable. While Olga is a talent who can have a remarkable career, she gives up her career because of the events in her country. Whether it was the right decision, I think, is debatable. When your country is invaded, returning and fighting is an option for many. After all, it is unacceptable that the land you grew up in is occupied by others. But should that have been Olga’s choice? She could have the gold medals she dreamed of if she thought selfishly. The impact of such grave events is so significant. Everyone’s life changes completely. Even if Olga is not involved in the events, she is caught in this vortex and thinks she needs to decide. The fact that she is happy at the end of the movie may alleviate the audience’s concerns. After all, Ukraine needs teachers too. However, her choice does not change that she has not reached her potential.

To sum it up… Olga is just one of the innocent people caught in the Ukraine-Russia conflict that has been going on since 2014. Even though she is far away from the events, her mind always stays on her hometown, where she was dying to escape. If the events never happened, Ukraine would have been a country she visited occasionally. However, the war raises her nationalist feelings at a young age, causing her to make decisions that will completely change her future. These feelings are not exaggerated in the movie. The fact that the subject is not dramatized too much, that the director does not interfere with the film too much, and that the fictional additions he has added are successful causes the film to flow like water. The movie, which can be boring for someone who has nothing to do with the subject, will give many things to think about for people who become part of this conflict.

Cast & Crew

director: Elie Grappe

writers: Raphaëlle Desplechin, Elie Grappe

starring: Anastasiia Budiashkina, Sabrina Rubtsova, Caterina Barloggio



Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

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