Saturday, February 22, 2020

Wish list entry #7: Márta Károlyi

Last week, it was announced that Olivia Wilde has been tapped to direct an adaptation of gymnast Kerri Strug's memoir, Perfect. As a huge fan of Olympic gymnastics, it got me thinking about team U.S.A. and the 1996 games in Atlanta. I had become a huge fan as early as 1991, after Kim Zmeskal won the World Championships in Indianapolis, and was glued to the TV whenever events came on leading up to Barcelona in '92.

Always looming behind the scenes in any competition were Béla and Márta Károlyi, the Romanian-American husband-wife team who had coached both Nadia Comăneci and Mary Lou Retton to Olympic gold. To me, they'd always seemed like the epitome of people at the top of their field, and with their prestigious training camp in Houston, were the envy of gymnastics clubs throughout the country.

Cut to present day, the Károlyis have had a bit of a fall from grace. Following the conviction of team U.S.A. doctor Larry Nassar for multiple counts of sexual misconduct, investigations into the Károlyi training center have resulted in lawsuits against the couple, claiming they turned a blind eye to the awful assaults. Others came out of the woodwork to also claim instances of physical abuse at the hands of the Károlyis. Their training facility has since been shut down.

Doesn't this seem totally ripe for a film version of the events? Perfect doesn't necessarily seem like it's going to specifically cover the investigations, rather Strug's experiences leading up to the famous vault where she injured her ankle in securing gold for her team. While that may be a worthy story (it seems a bit sugary to me on the surface--but some who've read the script say it's more akin to Whiplash), I think it would be vastly more interesting to produce a movie that focuses mainly on the Károlyis. Perhaps an adaptation of Dominique Moceanu's book about her life inside the Károlyi camp instead?

Who knows, maybe Wilde's film will actually have a juicy supporting part for Márta. If so, I'm sure Meryl would be great at showcasing the complexity of this elusive, if now somewhat infamous, woman.

No comments:

Post a Comment