Rob Brydon stars in this all-male synchronised swimming team story.
But the movie exists because there had been a documentary, Men Who Swim, about a Swedish men’s synchronised swimming team, who did it for existential Scandinavian reasons. The doco also spawned a French version, Le Grand Bain (you didn’t miss anything, apparently). Across the Channel, the concept has become a movie that might have had the intentions of being a bathing-capped Full Monty, but hasn’t quite the ensemble spark or the underdog appeal.
The movie is dominated by Brydon’s accountant, Eric, who, suffering a mid-life crisis and concerned that his wife (Jane Horrocks) is having an affair, takes his worries down the local teps. There, after offering maths advice to the all-male synchronised swimming team whose performances resemble ball-free water polo, he’s talked into joining. After much dedication and discussion, the all-ages bunch are waving their hairy tootsies above the surface with the best of them. That leads to a contest in Italy, which might have earned the film its feelgood certificate. Unfortunately, there’s a tacked-on happy ending so incredibly naff that the movie nearly drowns in its own syrup.
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This article was first published in the March 9, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.