“Sink or Swim” (M) ***
IN March, I gave three stars to a British film about the members of a men’s synchronised swimming team seeking emotional fulfilment by competing in a world championship.
That concept – I can’t imagine a mere two films having the clout to constitute a genre – moves east across the Channel in director Gilles Lellouche’s realisation of a feature debut screenplay by Ahmed Hamidi.
“Sink or Swim” takes rather more time to evolve, deliver its message and wind itself down than did the British “Swimming With Men”.
Its structure involves eight middle-aged blokes from a provincial city who coalesce themselves into a team, endure the rigours of an activity that few would consider to be a sport, travel to a World Championship in Norway, wonder on their return why French media have completely ignored their success then resume the hum-drummity of their previous lives a little bit wiser, a little bit more mature.
For synch-swimming fans, “Sink Or Swim” offers a small collection of moments telling about the run-up to the contest. Its more-substantial purpose is to lay out the personal stories of its eight characters, together with their families and the two women who train them. Movies exploring the human condition serve a worthy function but sometimes fail to satisfy appetites craving entertainment. This is one such.
The screenplay combines pathos and humour effectively enough to flesh out those stories, but not enough for a truly satisfying cinematic meal – entrée, main course, dessert. Pity.
At Palace Electric