Tall Poppy – Film Review

This year at the Tokyo Summer Olympics we will see several new sports introduced to the roster, one of those being skateboarding. This is an exciting development for many skaters around the world, one in particular is Poppy Starr Olsen from Newcastle, Australia. Feature documentary Tall Poppy takes a look back at Poppy’s early days in skateboarding, becoming pro and going on to training and competing to be a part of the Australian Olympic team.

Skating since the age of 8, Poppy is an extremely talented and motivated young woman who has smashed a lot of firsts in the world of skating, such as becoming the first Australian female to compete at the X Games, one of the biggest stages for skateboarding in the world. But Poppy is much more than just a skater. One of her other big passions is art and she produces amazing drawings and paintings. She creates prints and greeting cards of her works which she sells to fund her international skate trips, especially in her early years before gaining sponsors. 

Poppy’s mother Thomas Olsen is alongside her for the whole journey, providing support and guidance along the way, but also at times pushes her beyond her limits. Sometimes for good, other times bad as this puts a lot of pressure on Poppy, causing her to doubt herself and her skills. But all of this couldn’t possibly prepare her for all the hard work and four years of training required to compete at the Olympics. The pressure is taken to a whole new level, as being an Olympic athlete on the world’s stage is hugely different in comparison to the professional skating world. Plus throwing in the stress, anxiety and uncertainty of COVID makes for an emotional rollercoaster ride.

I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary. It is shot very well, using a mix of old, new and commercial footage to stitch together Poppy’s amazing story, as well as shining the spotlight on a couple of other emerging female skaters including Sabre Norris, a fellow Aussie who sadly missed out on Olympic selection. 

The narrative is also consistently paced out well and doesn’t linger too much on any particular topic, while exploring the difficulties of women breaking into the male dominated sport. The film also features Poppy’s same-sex relationship, but brings it up completely causally, which is exactly how it should be, and I felt that this decision was great!

Tall Poppy is a moving, touching and motivating documentary that will make you want to get up, get out there and follow your dreams, and should absolutely be shown to people of all ages. Poppy’s story is mesmerising, inspirational, and she deserves your support at the Olympics, which takes place later this month. So, get out there and see this film!

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