Swimming with Men
Swimming with Men is 2018’s answer to The Full Monty, with middle-aged men regaining their masculinity by engaging in something considered very unmasculine, in this case, synchronised swimming. However, where the working-class men of the 1997 comedy felt emasculated through unemployment and poverty, this is a tale of middle-class and middle-aged angst. Rob Brydon’s Eric is an accountant, with a nice house and a nice family but he feels unhappy in his life. After accusing his wife (Jane Horrocks) of having an affair, he abandons his home and marriage, holing up in a hotel where his only remaining pleasure in life proves to be his daily swimming.
Director Oliver Parker presents this activity in beautiful Martin Parr-esque primary colours, creating satisfying symmetry and using unique and interesting underwater camerawork. The locations throughout Swimming with Men do well to preserve the film’s distinctly English flavour, presenting beauty in the everyday whilst remaining tongue in cheek. The movie is exactly that, incredibly English, making it all the more surprising that it is based on the true story of a Swedish swim team, who also make an appearance.
It’s an original concept: a lot of life is boring and pointless and this becomes harder to grapple with as we age, but we can combat this by finding kinship and simply doing things we enjoy. However, this idea is never fully explored. Neither is the question of masculinity; the fact the men don’t fully open up to each other means we never wholly understand their characters, and good performances from the cast are hampered by a weak script. Moments of genuine emotion are few and far between as are, unfortunately, the laughs.
Some elements of the story feel altogether forced, and do not add to the film. However, the exploration of Eric’s marriage to Heather, and what happens when communication breaks down, contains moments of brilliance. Swimming with Men had the potential to be so much more than it is, but the final product is enjoyable, with some heartwarming and amusing moments – although they are a little thin on the ground.
Swimming with Men is released nationwide on 6th July 2018.
Watch the trailer for Swimming with Men here: