Review by Ceri Wheeldon
I love to learn from inspirational women – and this documentary film about Oscar winning actress Olympia Dukakis offers plenty to inspire.
The film starts as the cameras follow Olympia being inducted into the Hollywood Hall of Fame at the age of 82. Although gracious, Olympia comes across as being rather bemused by the whole proceedings. It is evident that her passion is acting – rather than celebrity – but it also shows that it is never too late to achieve and be recognised for those achievements!!
The daughter of Greek immigrant parents, Olympia hit barriers at every turn in her early acting career for being too ‘ethnic’. Not one to be deterred from her goals , she set up her own theatre company, The Whole Theatre, in order that she (and others) could practice the art that they loved. As Olympia says ‘if they don’t give it to you for whatever reason you have to build it yourself’.
That seems to have been her philosophy on life.
Olympia may be best known for her film roles in Steel Magnolias and Moonstruck (for which she won an Oscar) but it wasn’t until she was in her 50s that she made the transition from theatre to film, paving the way for other stage actors to be taken seriously in Hollywood. But what does come across is that Olympia has never lost her love of the stage, and loves to support her acting students, working to bring out the best of their abilities.
As those she has worked with over the years are interviewed as part of the documentary including Laura Linney, Whoopi Goldberg and Diane Ladd they speak of her passion, her warmth and her loyalty.
A well as insights into her acting, moments with Olympia’s husband, actor Louis Zorich are also shared. They were married for 56 years (until his death in 2018) , with Louise initially attracted to her ‘spirit’. An attraction which lasted – but Olympia discusses some of the ‘downs’ as well as the ‘ups’ of their life together with honesty – as do her children. Their family life seems to have been a little unconventional!
One of my favourite scenes of the film takes us to the village in Greece that Olympia’s father and uncle called home before leaving for a new life in America. Olympia visits with her daughter and granddaughter. There is an incredibly touching scene as Olympia chats to a number of ‘old’ ladies sitting outside in the sunshine. They know the Dukakis family but are more excited about the fact somebody with links to the village, Olympia’s cousin Michael Dukakis, might have been President of the USA than they are about being face to face with an Oscar winner. As Olympia walks away she highlights the fact that had her parents stayed in Greece, these are the women she may well have attended school with who would have become her friends. The contrast between the life that she lives , compared to the life of these ladies is significant, and it is an emotional moment.
Having just celebrated her 89th birthday, Olympia shows no signs of slowing down!
Olympia, the film, presents a portrait of an amazing lady, who has forged her own path in life, followed her dreams and stayed true to herself throughout. If you are looking for a dose of inspiration, then look no further!!
I am delighted that the producers of Olympia have asked to live stream the premiere on the Fab after Fifty Facebook page – free of charge- on Friday July 10th at 6pm .
So do join us on Friday, grab a glass of wine and be inspired !