Swimf@n

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Joan Crawford would have killed for this role. The femme fatale has rediscovered her identity in the hallway of a high school. Madison Bell (Erika Christensen) wets her lips before speaking.

"Can you help me," she purrs. "My locker door has jammed."

She might have said something else. It doesn't matter, because it's the boy she's talking to who does. He is Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford), the star of the swimming team.

Madison is new at school. She doesn't know anyone, although knows who she wants. It's a dangerous combination - absolute conviction and social unawareness. She plays the seduction game like a pro, but is ignorant of Ben's childhood sweetheart, Amy (Shiri Appleby). Of course, she's not. She's ignorant of very little. And when he tells her, she ignores him. They're half-naked in the pool now and she's making those moves that even highly trained athletes cannot resist.

It's good to see a teen movie that doesn't order American pie for a gang of no-brains in a white trash diner. As a melodrama, Swimf@n howls for Crawford, not that Christensen does a bad job - she's deliberately irresistible - but the style of the predatory female is out of fashion in these post-feminist times.

Bradford has a sweet innocence that seems inappropriate for a trained competitor. Ben is trapped in Madison's web and should be eaten for breakfast. Amy is a nice girl, whose inexperience of human nature causes heartache and pain. Are you surprised?

As a thriller, the film has an inevitability that cannot be rerouted. Australian actor/director John Polson and award-winning English cinematographer Giles Nuttgens make a terrific effort at disguising the obvious with energy and innovation.

Reviewed on: 18 Sep 2002
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High school swimming champ is stalked by sexy blonde in melodramatic teen thriller.
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Director: John Polson

Writer: Charles Bohl, Phillip Schneider

Starring: Jesse Bradford, Erica Christensen, Shiri Appleby, Kate Burton, Clayne Crawford, Jason Ritter, Kia Goodwin

Year: 2002

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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