Peloton instructor Jenn Sherman didn’t expect acclaimed director Christopher Nolan to be taking her class when she ripped one of his films. Now she’s backpedaling and promising him an insult-free ride.
At the New York Film Critics Circle dinner Wednesday evening, Nolan was awarded the best director prize for “Oppenheimer,” and the filmmaker used his acceptance speech to share an anecdote about the necessity of film criticism. “I was on my Peloton doing some high-interval [training] … gasping and dying,” he began, per Variety. “The instructor started talking about one of my films, saying, ‘Did anyone see this? That’s a couple of hours of my life I’ll never get back!’”
After the audience chuckled, Nolan expressed his appreciation for professional film critics, jesting, “When Rex Reed takes a s— on your film, he doesn’t ask you to work out more with him!”
The filmmaker continued by alluding to the way social media (and apparently Peloton) have turned anyone with a smartphone into a critic with a platform. “In today’s world, where opinions are everywhere, there is a sort of idea that film criticism is being democratized, but I for one think the critical appreciation of films shouldn’t be an instinct, but it should be a profession.”
“What we have here tonight is a group of professionals who attempt objectivity,” Nolan continued. “Obviously writing about cinema objectively is a paradox, but the aspirations of objectivity is what makes criticism vital and timeless and useful to filmmakers and the filmmaking community.”
Sherman caught wind that Nolan had taken one of her virtual classes, but wasn’t expecting that he had been pedaling away in her class when she’d pooh-poohed his 2020 sci-fi action film “Tenet.” Mortified that he had witnessed her rant, she posted a TikTok attempting to clear the air.
“A huge day for me when I come to find out that the one and only Christopher Nolan, one of the leading filmmakers of the 21st century, knows who the hell I am,” Sherman began her video. “I was excited. And then I read the article.”
“Listen, it was 2020. It was a dark time,” she said, backpedaling on her amateur critique. “I’m up on the platform, teaching my little class, and I’m running my mouth off like I’m known to do and I make a random comment about a movie I’d seen the night before. What do you think the odds are that the director of said movie would take that ride some four years later?”
Sherman then addressed the director again, admitting that although she didn’t understand a minute of “what the hell was going on in ‘Tenet,’” she had seen “Oppenheimer” twice.
“And that’s six hours of my life that I don’t ever want to give back. So, Mr. Nolan, I’m inviting you to come take a ride with me in the Peloton studio. You can take my class. We’ll have a great time, you’ll sit in the front row, and I promise you, it’ll be insult-free.”
To be fair, Jonathan Romney’s review of “Tenet” for The Times also touched on the confusing nature of the film. “‘Tenet’ really is as paradoxically complex as it would have us believe, but who knows?” he wrote. “Nolan’s latest may well be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, or it may signify something imponderably resonant, and signify it forward, backward and inside out. Does your head hurt yet?”