Swimsuit Issue

Swimsuit Issue

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Fredrik's life is out of synch. Having ditched his job seemingly on a whim, he's sinking slowly into the mire of middle-age buoyed only by his long-time floor ball buddies, who have been meeting together for a knock about ever since they were title contenders back in the mid-Eighties. At the same time as their training hall venue is usurped by women and youngsters - who, they are told, get first refusal on this sort of thing - he finds himself having to get to grips with a fatherhood he has long forgotten, when his ex-wife moves to London, forcing his 17-year-old daughter to move in with him, at least in the short term.

All of which tells you nothing about the issue of swimsuits, which is where his daughter comes in. Sara has one and is something of a star player on the synchronised swim team. And despite taking little interest in Sara's extracurricular activities - branding her efforts non-competitive - a chance encounter with her swimming cossie sees Fredrik hatch a plan for one of his pal's stag dos.

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Before you can say 'nose clip' the guys shoot a film of themselves having a bash at the synchronised stuff but what starts as a joke soon turns into something a lot more serious as they decide to have a real crack at the sport, enlisting Sara to their cause in an attempt to win the world championships.

Although the set up is somewhat more complex and, frankly, requires more suspension of disbelief, this is a Pool Monty at heart. Men facing the inexorable tick of time, have a go at something inherently funny but, at the same time find a unexpected level of dignity and friendship. The pool routines, like The Full Monty or Calendar Girl's stripping, are a good excuse for a great deal of funny business, not least given the fact that initially half of the team are better at sinking than swimming (giving rise to the film's original title, Everything Floats). But The Swimsuit Issue lacks the gritty backdrop of its Yorkshire cousins and also struggles to flesh out the subsidiary characters to any great degree.

The relationship between Fredrik and Sara is well-realised and Jonas Inde and Amanda Davin create a believable amount of potentially explosive dad/daughter chemistry, but the film flounders elsewhere. There is too much splashing about between issues, with scripting by Jane Magnusson and Måns Herngren (who also directs) suffering from a failure to either focus on the sort of camaraderie between long-time buddies which reveals latent prejudices - in this case homophobia - or on the kinds of minor prejudices in society which the ageing sportsmen come up against. The soundtrack is also annoyingly intrusive. While there is a certain feel-good charm, it lacks the depth needed to float it above its 'pals in the face of adversity' forebears.

Reviewed on: 24 Apr 2009
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Swimsuit Issue packshot
A group of middle-aged sportsman decide to form an all-male synchronised swimming team.

Director: Måns Herngren

Writer: Jane Magnusson, Måns Herngren

Starring: Jonas Inde, Amanda Davin, Paula McManus, Benny Haag Kalle Westerdahl, Jimmy Lindström

Year: 2009

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Sweden

Festivals:

Tribeca 2009

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