Diving in at the deep and meaningful end

Rob Brydon in Swimming with Men (IMDB)

Swimming With Men is a British comedy that deals with the fortunes and misfortunes of a male synchronised swimming team. Source: ACOFB.

It is based on the 2010 Swedish documentary Men Who Swim about the male Swedish team called Stockholm Art Swim Gents synchronised swimming team. There has also been a French version of the film, 2018’s Sink or Swim.

In this version, Eric (Rob Brydon) is an accountant who is experiencing marital difficulties with his wife, Heather (Jane Horrocks), and is depressed. He thinks his wife may be cheating on him, he is bored with his job and he doesn’t relate to his adolescent son. He is also jealous of his wife’s energy and her newfound enjoyment in the lure of politics.

Conscious of his age, which he knows is not going backwards, Eric wants to win Heather back, and he senses a chance when he is given the opportunity to join a local male swimming team. He encounters the team while working out in a pool one day. He sees the team at the bottom of the pool and he decides to give them advice.

With his offer of help on one of their manoeuvres, he joins the group which decides to train for the world synchronised, male swimming championships in Milan, Italy. They are a group of oddball, lonely misfits who haltingly decide to represent their country by attempting to do what seems impossible. One is gay (Adeel Akhtar), one is a construction worker (Daniel Mays), one of them is a widower (Jim Carter), two of them don’t speak much at all, and none of them is athletic.

Eric wants to find meaning in his mid-life crisis, and most of men in the swimming group are looking to find the same. The group is searching for self-esteem through synchronised swimming. As a swimming group, they all stand united in a “protest against the meaninglessness of life”.

The film echoes the marketing thrust of The Full Monty (1997) which dealt with a group of unemployed steelworkers who tried to rescue their feelings of self-worth by forming a striptease group. This movie pulls back from the promise (or threat) of nudity, and is a light movie about a group of middle-age men looking for a purpose in life, and bonding together to enjoy it while their lives roll on through middle-age.

– Reviewed by Peter W. Sheehan, ACOFB

Swimming With Men: Starring Rob Brydon, Jane Horrocks, Rupert Graves, Charlotte Riley, Daniel Mays, Adeel Akhtar, and Jim Carter. Directed by Oliver Parker. Rated M (Coarse language). 97 min. In cinemas March 21.

FULL REVIEW

Swimming With Men (ACOFB)

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