The Bronze Directed by Bryan Buckley

The Bronze Directed by Bryan Buckley
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
7
Imagine Napoleon Dynamite crossed with Eric Cartman and you still haven't quite conjured the correct image of obscene Olympic athlete (and future Halloween costume staple) Hope Annabelle Greggory in your mind.
 
In the dark and disturbing comedy The Bronze, acclaimed Superbowl commercial director and Oscar nominee Bryan Buckley's feature-length debut, pint-sized The Big Bang Theory star Melissa Rauch plays Hope, a foul-mouthed former gymnastics star who seems like Tonya Harding's career-defining attack come to life.
 
Once the pride of her hometown in Amherst, Ohio after placing third in Athens, Hope is permanently stuck in the past, still strutting around town in her old warm-up gear, scoring free food and favours based on her minor celebrity status, and masturbating to old VHS copies of her competitions in between bursts of public drunkenness and pill-snorting.
 
But when her old coach passes away unexpectedly and she's offered half a million dollars to train the next local prodigy, Hope has to make a decision: Help a fellow athlete and risk seeming not as special? Or sabotage the future gold medalist and keep getting free slices from Sbarro?
 
While Rauch has been primarily known as The Big Bang Theory's squeaky-voiced Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz up until now, Rauch steps into the spotlight like a champ in The Bronze (which also happens to be her feature-length writing debut), delivering some of the most downright offensive lines ever seen in the cinema (not to mention a sex scene so disturbing it makes the ones in Observe and Report and Team America look tame by comparison).
 
But The Bronze is more than just a collection of grotesque jokes that seem like they were written by someone's senile grandparent: there's a message at its core about the ways women are treated in sports (Hope had to retire from gymnastics after developing breasts, leading her to tape them down every day after that) and the media's disinterest in them after they've aged.
 
At 35 years old, Rauch is clearly just stepping into her prime, and if her first lead role and feature-length writing credit are any indication, she's clearly a star on the rise.

(Mongrel Media)