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Critics Review
Untold: Caitlyn Jenner: A tribute to Caitlyn before she transitioned from Bruce

A deep dive into one of the most remarkable decathlon gold medal wins, as Russia's Nikolai Avilov and the USA’s Jenner went head-to-head in the 1976 Olympic Games held in Montreal

2.5
Ryan Gomez
Aug 30, 2021
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Story:

Caitlyn Jenner narrates her life when she competed in the decathlon to become the greatest athlete in the world by participating in it as Bruce. She was competing against Nikolai Avilov, the then-favourite. The documentary also focuses on her early life and the relationship between Bruce and Chrystie Crownover.

Review:

The technical aspects of the documentary are at par with the ones released by Netflix from the Untold series. There is an excellent mix of interviews, and amateur as well as archival footage from the Olympic Games. The transition between each frame in the segments highlights the different periods in her early life. The narrative is well-paced and flows seamlessly throughout the entirety of its runtime. The footage from the Montreal Olympics is particularly intense and exciting and gives perspective about an oft-forgotten period from Jenner’s life.

The documentary focuses on Jenner’s first wife Chrystie Crownover as well. Her interviews and archival footage signifies the crucial role she played in Caitlyn’s success at the Olympics. The documentary also focuses on the sacrifices she had to make to help her then-husband become an Olympic Gold medalist. The first part of the film details their life together from college to the Olympics and how they became romantically involved with each other. The narrative then moves to their eventual divorce while Caitlyn battled personal struggles which large sections of the society considered taboo at the time.

The documentary, however, fails to completely chronicle ‘Caitlyn’s’ life since it emphasises more on Bruce’s life. While that part of her story was an engaging watch, the film failed to delve deeper behind her transition into one of the most well-known transgender women on the planet. Throughout the film, Caitlyn’s interviews give the impression that the final parts of the documentary will be about her transition. There were more than enough clues spread across the runtime which suggested that her life as Bruce was the foundation to her becoming Caitlyn.

The documentary has also conveniently excluded her fatal car accident which killed Kim Howe and caused injuries to others. The mishap, which happened few months before her 2015 transition, occurred when Caitlyn rear-ended Kim Howe’s car into oncoming traffic. They have also completely left out her third wife Kris Kardashian’s family, along with daughters Kylie and Kendall. This is a very surprising choice, considering the reality show Keeping Up with Kardashians, was what brought her back into relevance in the world of pop culture. It also contradicts a statement she made in the show about how she doesn't like being showcased in front of the camera, considering she has voluntarily been involved in reality shows that documented her family's daily lives.

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The documentary also fails to delve into her widely publicised political career as a member of the Republican party. Caitlyn’s political stance was not well received by the wider transgender community in the United States owing to the conservative Republican Party’sshaky history with regards to LGBTQ rights, especially under the Trump administration.

Unlike Untold: Deal With the Devil about Christy Martin, there are not enough voices to give context and add perspective to Caitlyn’s life other than Chrystie Crownover and their first son Burt Jenner. The documentary is ultimately a puff piece about Caitlyn Jenner rather than an objective film about her remarkable life.

Verdict:

The entire documentary is more about Bruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist, and not about Caitlyn Jenner, trans-activist, social media influencer, and politician.

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