In the same vein as Albert Maysles’ Iris, this sublimely intimate fly-on-the-wall verité documentary tells a heart-wrenching story of a woman finding her own voice on her own terms to assert a gigantic creative force into the world. Rebelling against her old world, panty-sniffing, suspicious Greek mother to assert her strong sexual drive, fighting the feeling she was “too ethnic” amid the Boston Brahmin at BU, and starting her own theater company in New Jersey instead of waiting for the phone to ring, Olympia Dukakis models how to live life with blazing courage.
Throughout an engrossing story that seamlessly blends past and present, she opens her heart and exposes her truest self to Harry Mavromichalis' unobtrusive camera. The raw honesty with which Olympia leads us into the core of herself is what makes this film luminary. As fellow actors with whom she has shared the limelight Laura Linney, Diane Ladd, Whoopi Goldberg, and Austin Pendleton all testify, Olympia is “totally open and crazy”, which is what turns out to be the marker of her absolute sanity.
The gateway actor for Hollywood to pay attention to theater actors, Olympia represents the gutsy, Brechtian seriousness of New York theatre in the 1970s. Her story reflects the vital life-force of an entire generation of working-class women from the second wave of feminists powerfully connecting to their own intense personal integrity and authenticity. As Olympia says:“Fight ye devils, I hate peace.”