Simone Biles: Courage to Soar
Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Based on her book, Courage To Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance, the biopic follows Simone Biles through her sacrifices and hard work that lead her to win 19 Olympic and World Championship medals and cemented her stake as one of the greatest gymnasts of all-time. Biles’ journey from foster care to the Olympic podium is full of life experiences that serve as an inspiration for every little girl with a dream.
It’s 2000, and Simone is in foster care because her drunk mom could not take care of her and her siblings. They are sent to go live with her step grandmother (who is rich RICH!). They have a trampoline in the backyard and a big beautiful house. They are a happy family with in their new surroundings when the drunk mom comes back after being rehabilitated. Simone’s siblings want to go back home, Simone wants to stay with her step grandparents. After some back and forth between foster care, their mom’s house, and their step grandparents’ house, the grandparents are legally named as Simone’s guardians.
On a whim, Simone’s brother takes her to the gym and she is a natural. Quickly advancing to higher levels and on to the junior olympic track. Simone’s step grandfather takes her to practices and gets some-patronizing advice from the other gymnastic moms, until they realize that she is the girl who is killing it on all the skills.
Next, we get a montage of the real Simone Biles in competition. It is amazing to see how small she was and the crazy gymnastics moves.
Flashforward to teen Simone. She is getting bullied for having muscles by the kids at her private school. Her life is completely consumed by gymnastics, and she isn’t doing well in school. So Nellie (the step grandmother) goes to the coach to see if Simone can get to the next level or should they look for another coach. Her coach commits to get Simone to be her best in front of Marta Karoly and to the olympics.
Cue the training montage!
It works and Simone gets into the USA Gymnastics Camp. She is thrilled to be there and trains with Marta Karoly, the music here is ominous to show their seriousness of the new head coach. This whole scene is very strange with the recent scandal with the camp, and Marta’s involvement.
At nationals, Simone failed to make the junior nation team by one spot and Marta decided to not invite Simone back for another year because she lacked focus.
We then see high school Simone who wants a normal life with a boyfriend and school dances. She comes off as bratty and spends the next few scenes complaining and yelling at her step grandparents. Eventually she decides to go with home schooling and kind of commit to gymnastics. She makes the junior nation team!
In practices, Simone is all attitude and rudeness to her coach. She is pissed that she gave up high school to train and resentful to everyone. She has a heart-to-heart with Nellie who encourages her to not worry about what other people are doing and focus on herself.
We get another montage of real Simone in competition intercut with the movie family in the stands cheering her on. She stumbles, falls, and injures her ankle. Marta come to the locker room and tells her to be 100% committed and do it for herself, not others. Simone decides to make it fun again, while her coaches up the difficulty of her routines.
Cue another training montage (this time with her family helping her at home too)!
Training pays off when Simone wins the women’s all around at worlds—when her coach Amy suddenly walks out and quits. Nellie isn’t having it and meets with Amy to convince her to come back. She even starts to build her own a gymnasium, so Simone can train.
Lifetime then touches on the family dealing the racist tweets that Simone received after winning worlds from a salty Italian gymnast.
We get even MORE training montages (This time to “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten). Simone injured her shoulder and had to rehabilitate herself to win worlds two more times, making her a THREE TIME WORLD CHAMPION. (Which is insane!!!) We had a HUGE time jump here in the movie and skipped over the rest of her high school. She now has to choose between going college or going pro for sponsorships. She complains about having to make a choice and cries, but decides to go pro.
On track for Rio, Simone automatically qualifies for the olympics! The gym is finally open too. Simone’s mom calls to check in and they have a strained conversation, where Simone calls her by her name (Sharon). She then thanks Nellie for being her actual mom.
At the olympics, Simone and the other girls decided to call themselves the Final Five. They are the final five girls that Marta will have coached.
We finally get some actual olympic footage intercut with Jeanté Godlock’s face close ups. We all know how the olympics turn out! USA takes the gold! We then see that Simone is gearing up for 2020. (And then a two title card about the scandal, like so short I could barely read it.)
- After some research online: Lifetime is airing a special on the Larry Nasser scandal titled Breaking Their Silence: Inside the Gymnastics Scandal (Featuring 19 survivors and their stories.)
Lifetime certainly was hoping to capitalize on the excitement leading up to the 2018 olympic games. However, the timing of this movie seems off with the US gymnastics abuse scandal. (Of which Simone Biles herself was a victim of.) Larry Nasser was recently sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison.
Lifetime biopics are always hit or miss. This one had the benefit of Simone Biles herself involved in production. That said, the movie had no POV, except Simone Biles is good at gymnastics and her grandparents were cool/supportive.
Julius Tennon made this movie! He was hilarious.
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*Photo Credit: © 2018 Lifetime