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With: Missy Franklin, Kara Lynn Joyce, Todd Schmitz, D.A. Franklin, Dick Franklin
Written by: Christo Brock
Directed by: Grant Barbeito, Christo Brock
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 101
Date: 11/28/2014

Touch the Wall (2014)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Swim Fast

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Touch the Wall plays a little bit like one of those official Olympic documentaries, where everything seems a bit too scrubbed clean, but it also doesn't resort to artificial drama, either.

In the two years before the 2012 Olympics in London, two swimmers step up their training. Kara Lynn Joyce is in her mid-20s and hopes to return for her third Olympics. She received two silver medals in Athens, 2004, and two more silver medals in Beijing, 2008. She decides to relocate to Aurora, Colorado, where she will train with coach Todd Schmitz, and alongside a very promising teen Olympic hopeful, Missy Franklin. The two become fast friends as Missy's career takes off, winning competitions and breaking records. Meanwhile, Kara finds it increasingly difficult to push her body as hard as she did in her teens. At the Olympics, the friends must swim as fast as they can without losing sight of what's really important.

Both Joyce and Franklin come across as totally ordinary folks here. "I'm not famous!" says Franklin incredulously to an interviewer. "I've just had some media attention." Joyce has it the roughest here, ten years older than Franklin and struggling more with her physical limitations.

Joyce has a couple of meltdowns on camera, but they seem born of frustration rather than any kind of diva complex. Scenes with her boyfriend make her even more normal and sympathetic. Franklin, however, comes across as a hero, turning down multi-million dollar ad deals, continuing to compete with her high school team, and showing generosity and good cheer at every moment. In the end, the movie gives a good name to these two Olympians, if not Olympians everywhere.

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