Pop Star on Ice

This 2009 SIFF selection is a documentary about the enormously talented (but a little flakey) ice skating super star Johnny Weir, the US National Men's Figure Skating Champion, 2004-2006.

Weir has come thisclose to winning a much-coveted Olympic medal, but hasn't made the grade...yet... We follow him, his coach, and his mother beginning with his late start at ice skating at age 12. His first ice rink was a frozen cornfield behind his house. As soon as he put on a pair of skates it was apparent that he was a natural athlete who had nothing but talent to go on. He had been inspired by Oksana Baiul and her performance in the 1994 Olympics when she won the gold medal despite suffering an injury just before the meet.

As we get acquainted with our hero, we are also treated to interviews with other world-class skaters, most of whom are familiar names to all of us. They sing his praises, but also voice some skepticism because of his reputation as non-conformist. In addition, a lot of unnecessary time and ink is squandered by speculation on whether or not he is gay.

Weir is personable, witty, attractive, outspoken and, as they said, a bit of a hell raiser, so it comes as no surprise (Spoiler Alert!) when he falls short. The folks making the documentary clearly had a different ending in mind, and as audience members, we too, were guilty of a little magical thinking.

We had the opportunity to watch spectacular skating, though... And that counts!