REALISTIC Coming-of-Age Flick
- Durrkk | Ohio/PA border USA | 02/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Swimming" (as in 'sink or swim') is a slice-of-life coming-of-age indie flick centered around the life of Frankie, played by Lauren Ambrose, who co-owns a small Myrtle Beach restaurant/bar with her older brother, Neil. Frankie is about 18 or 19 and is trying to find her place, purpose and identity in the world. She could be pretty but has no sense of style or charisma. She just kind of innocently mopes around. Her best friend is the sexy wild-child Nicola, who runs a body-piercing salon next to the restaurant.
When the ultra-sexy Josee, played by Joelle Carter, strolls into town it stirs up the curiosity of Frankie, the jealousy of Nicola and the lust of Neil and every other man, except Heath, a tie-dye shirt salesman who lives in his van with his dogs. Heath is a bit of a grunge/stoner and only has eyes for Frankie.
Make no mistake, although "Swimming" is a quiet little indie film, it's a 5-Star piece all the way. The story is strangely engrossing and highly realistic. If you're older than 25 it very accurately brings to memory those fun-yet-dreadful 'coming-of-age' years (if you're younger than 25 you're STILL coming of age). The characters are all highly believable; it's almost as if you know them, hence you CARE about their lives and their story. Also, although this is a drama there's quite a few laugh-out-loud moments.
The character of Josee is very intesting. She's ravishing, ultra-confident and overflowing with charisma. She knows this and uses it to her advantage to get whatever she wants. For example, she entices the lifeguard so she can have a free place to stay by the beach and charms Neil for a waitress job even though he doesn't need anyone, not to mention she's a lousy worker. She also charms Frankie in more than one sense. Josee instinctively senses that Frankie is kind of lost and that she can 'wow' her with her star appeal. Frankie naturally becomes a bit star-struck by Josee and it negatively affects her relationship with Nicola.
A reviewer on IMDb wrongly deduced that Frankie is a butch lesbian and just doesn't realize it yet. This is an inaccurate interpretation and I'll tell you why (it's obvious): Josee realizes the power she has over Frankie and is indeed attempting to stir her love and desire, and not just on a friendship level. You see, Josee feeds off of desire, from both men and women, regardless of the nature of the desire. It's clear in the film that, out of curiosity, Frankie briefly (yet seriously) considers the idea of lesbianism, such is the alluring power of Josee. Ultimately, however, she rejects it. Josee's spell over Frankie is broken once Frankie sees her true selfish, using and fickle nature. Frankie then re-focuses her romanic energy on heath and restores her friendship with partygirl Nicola, who had gotten into trouble with the law.
Josee's character is well portrayed in the laugh-out-loud scene where she's having sex with the lifeguard she's living with. The guy is passionately into it but Josee is obviously quite bored by the whole experience (in her mind she's just paying her room & board). It's hilarious and so true-to-life.
I'm genuinely surprised by some of the mediocre ratings of "Swimming." They evidently don't get it 'cause this is film-making of the finest expertise. Don't miss out on "Swimming" if it sounds like your cup of tea."
Swimming is subtle, provocative.
Sarah Young | Knoxville, TN | 06/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with one of the other reviewers in regard to the lesbianism issue. I don't think Frankie's reaction to Josee is attributable to latent lesbian tendancies. I think she likes Josee because she represents to Frankie the notion of sexual enagagement - really more with men than with women - and her attention to Josee's modes of operating contributes, somewhat ironically, to an awakening of her own heterosexuality. However, there is certainly enough well-crafted ambiguity in the movie to read the situation many different ways. It is wonderful when Frankie opens the back door of the hippie guy's van and steps into the morning sunshine to walk to work, how we are left wondering whether or not she had sex with him the previous night. It's interesting to consider why he glowed with a smile when she approached him unexpectedly on the street a few days later. The movie elicits the question "did they do it, did they do it?" in viewers' minds in a really tasteful way, but we never quite conclude the answer definitively. I even sensed the possibility that Nicola, Frankie's hapless best friend, might hook up with the hippie guy at the end, finally meeting a sensitive male with which to share her romantic, dramatic self.
Josee is in many ways just as complicated as Frankie, and I got the feeling that if any character in the movie was truely a lesbian, it was Josee. But I certainly don't think that Josee is as much of an opportunistic user of others as some reviewers here have expressed. I felt she was confused and a needy, operating in some ways out of survival (while well-disguised) rather than with a motive to exploit others for her own gain. I also felt that she displayed moments of loyalty to Frankie, just as Nicola did. For instance, after the shallow, jealous lifeguard comes into the restaurant and calls Frankie 'ugly' when she refuses to answer his questions about Josee's where-abouts, Josee comforts her, then trashes his apartment and leaves him. We don't quite know if Josee does it as a response to the confrontation between Frankie and the lifeguard, or independent of it, but the possibility of loyalty is there.
Ambiguity as a plot device is rarely utilized as well as it was in this movie. And as an actress, Lauren Ambrose skillfully and insightfully mediates between the wayward supporting characters around her and her own character's internal conflict to deliver a fine performance, moody and complex, like her performance on Six Feet Under. This is a special film."