Swimming with Men (12A) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Oliver Parker, UK, 2018, 97 mins

Cast:  Rob Brydon, Charlotte Riley, Rupert Graves, Jim Carter, Daniel Mays, Nathaniel Parker, Thomas Turgoose, Jane Horrocks

Review by Carol Allen

This story has certain elements in common with “The Full Monty”, in that it deals with a group of largely middle aged men facing crisis, who bond together and find themselves through taking off their clothes – only in this one they keep their knickers on.  

Rob Bryden plays middle aged accountant Eric, who is suffering from an existential mid-life crisis. He’s bored with his job, is convinced his local politician wife (Jane Horrocks) is having an affair with her boss (Nathanial Parker) and all in all life has lost its savour.  His only release is his solitary trips to the local swimming baths, where he meets a group of largely middle aged guys, who are drowning their sorrows through the unlikely activity of forming a synchronized swimming team.

They include (Ted (Jim Carter), a widower in mourning for his late wife; (Luke) Rupert Graves, a divorced estate agent; (Colin) Daniel Mays, who lost his confidence when he flunked the possibility of a football career in his youth and the baby of group, Tom (Thomas Turgoose), who is in trouble with the police.   Eric gets recruited into the team when his mathematical mind points out that the reason the synchronized swimming routine isn’t working is because the team is an odd number and doesn’t balance.   That and the support of synch swimming coach Susan (Charlotte Riley) ups their game and they end up taking part in the World Championships in Milan.

It is a reasonably original premise but a largely predictable plot.  An unconvincing bit of romance is injected into the proceedings by Luke having a secret passion for Susan.

A sterling group of actors do their best to put some flesh on the bones of their rather thinly written roles.   And talking of flesh, in view of the fact that most of the team will never see fifty again, they show a lot of courage in baring so much flesh for so much of the time, where their lack of flab is impressive for their years.

Brydon does a good job of leading the proceedings and for much of its length the film is mildly amusing.  It does though have a totally, totally silly and unconvincing ending.