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I'm halfway through a Japanese B film, in which a girl on a track team, hypnotized to ignore her body's warning signals, runs so hard she shatters the bones in both legs. That's nothing to the drive of the protagonist of this documentary. "Gaea Girls " is at least as shattering as any fiction film you'll see about ring sports. Essentially it's a battle of wills between a brutal coach and an inept, doomed-to-fail yet relentlessly driven, trainee. We watch the latter get beaten, in both and every sense, over, over, and over again, yet each time beg for another chance. The coach, despite the dread she calculatingly inspires, only wants the girl to quit. Some may see a comment on national character, or even want to resurrect the eager-zero-pilot myth. But I see none of that, just one frustratingly opaque young woman I hardly know whether to admire or pity.
In a strange footnote, a Japanese-American friend who caught a Q and A I missed remarked that the coach and protagonist, startling about the coach in particular though, in street clothes looked like perfectly unremarkable women.
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