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| 25 February 2019 | Reply

Written by Aschlin Ditta
Directed by Oliver Parker
Starring Rob Brydon, Rupert Graves, Jim Carter, Jane Horrocks

When the abject mundanity of every facet of Eric Scott (TV fave Rob Brydon)’s middle-aged existence gets too overwhelming, he joins – somewhat reluctantly – a men’s synchronised swimming team. As you do.

In life sometimes only a small change in routine is enough to cause a domino effect of life changes, and simply joining the team gives Eric the camaraderie and confidence to no longer tolerate his wife Heather (Jane Horrocks)’s – a newly elected councilwoman – nagging, and leaves her for shitty motel room and a lot of soul searching.

The swim team is populated by men who need the company of others, whose own lives have fallen into the cracks. The film subtly explores the importance of connection on male mental health, and their membership of the team s really a protest against the meaningless of what their lives have become.

Director Oliver Parker’s underwater scenes in the swimming pool are beautifully shot, and reflect the stability and structure coupled with creativity and passion which Eric and his teammate’s lives have been sorely lacking. “We’ve all had our moments at the bottom of the pool,” one says, reassuring the others.

It can be bloody hard to deal with depression and disappointment and anxiety when we were raised to “man up” and not cry, and Brydon and co are uniformly great as everyday men out of sorts with their lives.

When the opportunity arises to compete at the World Championship in Milan falls in their laps, they enlist Susan (Charlotte Riley) to coach them, and the team must face their fears and anxieties anew, the team – their support group – proves essential to each of them.

The Brits do these sorts of character-driven light comedies better than anyone, and this one is charming, funny, and carries an important message at its heart.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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