SFiFF xi: Swimmers

USA 90 minutes

This film was a bonus during SFiFF for members only on Sunday morning.
The Swimmer was a 1968 movie starring Burt Lancaster and based on a story by John Cheever. Reportedly there is a remake of that in production starring Alec Baldwin. Swimmers bears no relationship to that, whatsoever.

Written and directed by Doug Sadler
Cherry Jones [two-time Tony Award-winner] as the Mother
Sarah Paulson as the Niece
Tara Devon Gallagher as the Girl

Maryland Outer Banks

Eleven year-old Girl loves to swim, during a swim meet; her left eardrum pops, requiring surgery that will cost $11,000.

Her Father, an oyster waterman, is going through a bad patch, a lot of bad oysters; and no health insurance.

Mother is a cold bitch-on-wheels (sez I, C doesn”t agree, sez she’s a sympathetic character doing her best to keep the family together). Mother is constantly haranguing Father for not making more money.

Father totals his boat at 5AM, hitting a submerged pylon (“Boat is worth more on the bottom than on top, I figured,” we learn later). Insurance company for his boat fucks him over (what’s new?) by not calling the boat a “total.”

Mama puts Mason jars with a sweet picture of the Girl in stores around town to collect money for the operation.

Father, embarrassed, renews a drinking problem (on Rolling Rock Beer??).

There are two grown brothers with their own problems and issues. When the family gets together, there are heated squabbles; over money, over who did/said what/when. Girl feels invisible at home. She is treated as an object needing money, rather than part of the family. “I can hear you, you know, even with one bad ear.”

Wayward young woman comes back to town, the Niece of a woman Father may or may not be banging (he says he went to her for warmth, don”t blame him). Niece, shaken by her mother’s suicide, left home and lived life hard. Now she’s back and worldly wise.

Girl and Niece become best friends, because Niece pays attention to her. Mama don”t like that. Admonishes girl to stay home, locks up her bike.

Girl has operation.

Niece gives her a new bathing suit, leaves town.

Girl goes swimming.

The End

But a clichéd and incomplete story does not preclude strong acting. The women bring excellent performances to their roles. The men are written weak and give performances to match.
mrating * *

The San Francisco International Film Festival is running now through May 4. I”m volunteering at the festival and plan to attend as many of the films as I can work in to my schedule. Bear in mind that, for the most part, these are independent films and many have not been picked up for distribution, so they may not be playing at a “theater near you” anytime soon. On the other hand, some of the foreign films may have already been released in Europe.

As a public service, I will post brief reviews. My ratings are based on 5 stars ***** with a tilde ~ being half-a-star.

Happy viewing, or in any case, keep your eyes on rectorsite.com.


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