Tribeca Film Festival Video Review: Sweden's "The Swimsuit Issue "– Not At All What You Think It Is!
Sorry guys, if you think this is about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, it is not that at all. Ladies, it is not about fashion or magazines either. Entirely different story, genre: men and a bit of mid-life crisis are the focal point. (Article first published as Movie Review: The Swimsuit Issue Is Not At All What You Think It Is on Blogcritics.)
The movie focuses on a group of men who play floor ball (I was not aware this was even a sport — so forgive me for sounding silly). Think of it as hockey played with a ball and indoors. This movie is Swedish and the subtitles moved quickly so I lost some things in the “pick-up”. The key character is Fredrik a man who quit/forced out of his job as a journalist — at loose ends with his life and what to do. He’s divorced and his ex got a new job in the UK and leaves their daughter with him till the ex gets settled in. The daughter is highly involved in synchronized swimming and is the typical teenage daughter foisted upon an unwitting father who hasn’t got a real clue about parenting.
While Fredrik and his buddies are playing floorball, their time and space is overtaken by other teams of kids and women. Searching for something new, Fredrik saw a synchronized swim practice and thought it would be funny to do a send-up of synchro-swim for a bachelor party that wound up being so funny with the guys in drag as girls that the video of their performance as bride and bridesmaids was played at the wedding. It was the hit of the wedding and they were hired to duplicate their performance at some high-end event– with pay! Frederik -being the competitive man with time on his hands– convinces the other team-mates to redo the performance into something more formal and serious and eliminate the “drag event” presentation. However the revised presentation that turned out to be a dud at the party because it made no sense to the guests and the hostess seemed not to have explained anything to the guests (or told the swimmers what she had wanted– a duplicate drag performance) (Curiously confusing in spots because the subtitles didn’t provide the nuances)
While the guys licked their virtual wounds to their egos, Fredrik (a jock if there ever was one), encouaged his friends to create a serious synchronized swim team and he found through his research as a former journalist that the first synchronized swim event was created by men and held in Berlin. He and his buddies dive into training and while they come up with some choreography, they find difficulties getting pool time due to reverse discrimination. All of this is supposed to be funny, but it’s a bit frustrating because this is where the movie drops the ball. It’s not cohesive enough, the threads of the story aren’t completely pulled through to create that sense of what’s going on. Springing into gear with the Berlin meet/anniversary of the first “formation swim meet since the late 1800’s, the team wants to enter as the first men’s Swedish team. The daughter, Sara, becomes the team coach and does a great job of whipping this 40+ men into synchronized swim athletes and it’s quite a task
These guys do what other guy films do and they do it no better, no worse — but not as fun as Full Monty. However Fredrik’s daughter realizes the passion behind her dad’s search for a purpose which even leads him to a job of sorts (that’s as far from journalism as one could get– bicycle messenger,– however it’s treated as a sidenote that makes little sense). .
They do wind up performing for an event of 1000 people right before the finals in Berlin and did a superb job. However heading into the Berlin competition, there is a snag: they can only have 8 men on the team and not 9. Who’s going to get dumped is the question for Fredrik (a situation that he shares with the team but makes the decision alone) and that’s where the film ends with some sort of resolution but no visual on how they performed.
This was a decent movie. There were some very funny parts. The characters weren’t completely fleshed out and one wishes they had spent more time on the development of those characters and what drove each man to participate to make sense of the bond. There are very few scenes with women except to be negative. It did have a bonding between father and daughter and that was a parallel storyline. Would I buy this or pay to see it in a theater– no, I wouldn’t spend that kind of cash. However as a DVD download or rental, it’s better than reruns or what’s currently in theaters.
A Fladen Film presentation, in association with Nordisk Film, Gadda Five, Zentropa Entertainments Berlin, Filmpool Stockholm-Malardalen. (International sales: Trust Film Sales, Denmark.) Produced by Rebecka Hamberger. Directed by Mans Herngren. Screenplay, Herngren, Jane Magnusson, Brian Cordray.
With: Jonas Inde, Amanda Davin, Peter Gardiner, Benny Haag, Jimmy Lindström, Andreas Rothlin Svensson, Dietrich Hollinderbäumer, Ia Langhammer.
Camera (color, widescreen), Henrik Stenberg; editor, Fredrik Morheden; music, the Soundtrack of Our Lives; production designers, Mikael Varhelyi, Linda Janson; costume designer, Jaana Fomin, choreographer, Roine Soderlundh; casting, Imor Hermann. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Center, Manhattan, April 5, 2009. (In Tribeca Film Festival — Discovery.) Running time: 98 MIN.
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Stevie , LA-Story.com
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