SWIMMING WITH MEN, a rather twee variation of The Full Monty sort of affair, dog-paddled its inoffensive but innocuous way into competition in 2018. Riffing off a Swedish movie from 2008 called Allt flyter (Everything Floats/The Swimsuit Issue), and a 2010 documentary, also from Sweden, called Men Who Swim, this came out just a few months after the quite similar French flick Le grand bain (Sink Or Swim), which was a sizable hit. This Brit entry only managed a global gross of $1,377,748 while the French picture made 28 times as much. Aie!
‘Eric’ (Rob Brydon) is an accountant, bored-to-death with his job, his family situation, Life As We Know It. In the manner of Movie Rebirthing 101 he joins those fragile yet heroic characters we’ve seen who inspire us to get up off the coach of despair and learn ballroom dancing/buy a villa in Tuscany/take up bobsledding/teach fonix to bears…in this case he joins a group of fellow middle-class, middle-aged burnouts/dropouts to compete in synchronized swimming. Yes, a bunch of not-gay guys who want to perform flower petal designs in community swimming pools while people judge them. You live, you learn.
Put it this way: if this movie was you swimming, it would not be your breaststroke or backstroke but your sidestroke—on your weak side. You get there, but barely. Someone says “I knew you could do it.” Then the rest of your life happens.
Some smiles, a few chuckles; that it holds a modicum of interest for most of its 96 minutes is due to likeability of Brydon and co-stars Rupert Graves and Jim Carter. The boys are game, the movie is tame, with a wash-out finale. The previews to the French version look pretty good.
With Jane Horrocks, Daniel Mays, Adeel Akhtar, Thomas Turgoose, Charlotte Riley. Directed by Oliver Parker. Screenplay by Aschlin Ditta.