The film follows Eric (Rob Brydon), a grey-suited accountant who endures the same office routine, day after day, but finds an escape in swimming. He meets a group of male synchronised swimmers and, after offering mathsy advice about their routine, he is welcomed into their group.
Despite this being an oft-told story about the frustrations of the aging male, screenwriter Aschlin Ditta does attempt to challenge traditional gender roles. The sport of synchronised swimming is recognised as a sport primarily for women, and this group of male swimmers are mocked for their passion. When they’re booked to perform at a kid’s birthday party, the dads are disappointed not to see pretty women swimming about in bikinis. This perception of what men should do and what women should do is at the heart of the film’s conflict and comedy.
Many of the actors are recognisable faces from British TV (Rupert Graves from Sherlock, Jim Carter from Downton Abbey, Thomas Turgoose from This Is England etc.), but there is an overbearing number of swimmers to deal with. You can’t help but feel an exclusion of two or more would create stronger relationships within the group as a whole (two characters in particular, Silent Bob and New Guy, are redundant entities). But Ditta constructs good characters, thick with empathy, performed by a decent spread of talent.
Swimming With Men isn’t too funny or emotional; the drama of Eric’s story is told to a passable standard but the comedy isn’t directed nearly as well. Ditta wrote some great jokes, but many are left hanging in silence. However, it’s a fun journey to swim through and provides a needed (though pale) objection to societal roles assigned because of gender. It’s the least compelling of the ennui-movies to come out this year, but the fact that the idea of 'masculinity' is being challenged within this genre is a pleasing step forward.
|What||Swimming with Men film review|
06 Jul 18 – 06 Jul 19, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more information|