Review – Swimming With Men

A group of men find support and a sense of purpose forming a male synchronised swimming team. Another one of these typical movies in which the main character is on the brink of disappearing into thin air, until he bumps into someone or something to then fully realise that he’s been missing a purpose in his life. 

The local swimming pool provides an escape for Eric (Rob Brydon), a depressive accountant who’s sabotaging his life and marriage. His wife Heather (Jane Horrocks) is passionate about her new role as local councillor. Eric assumes that this means that her passion for him has worn off and thus sinks away in self-pity and self-induced stress in the pool. It’s here that Eric meets the group of men who offer him a lifeline and where he gains a newfound enthusiasm for life.

You can’t feel any sympathy for Eric, and that’s not a good thing. This is supposed to be a feel good movie, but it never made me feel anything like that in the slightest. The rest of the team are just extras with no personality whatsoever. No interesting dialogue, since we’re not supposed to care about any of them. The few female characters that we do get to see have more personality than any of the male characters, but are just here to serve as love interests.

We’ve seen similar British films like Swimming With Men in the past, – Full Monty is a good example – but I think this kind of genre is beaten to death in the last two decades. This might’ve worked as a Netflix Original and surely have found its audience, but as a theatrical release.. The problem with this is that it could’ve relied on its cast to give it some sort of character, like the salty group of women in Calendar Girls. But it can’t even count on that for a few laughs.

The story itself is based on a true story about a group of middle-aged Swedish men in their conquest of the world of synchronised swimming. Another version of this story was released last year – the French film Sink or Swim – and got better reactions from film festivals than Swimming With Men ever did.

There’s two endings to this. One that actually makes sense and would’ve wrapped it all up at the men’s world synchronised swimming championships and one that wants to make us laugh, but fails miserably. Even a lifeboat would’ve drifted away from these men in open sea. Humiliating yourself to grow as a person. I was never really attracted to this kind of genre, and this proofs once again why.

Swimming With Men will be released in Australian cinemas on March 21.

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