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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

THE SWIMSUIT ISSUE

By D.E.Levine

A Tribeca Film Festival selection

Director: Mans Herngren
Writers: Brian Cordray, Man Herngren and Jane Magnusson
Cast: Jonas Inde, Amanda Davin, Paula McManus, Benny Haag, Andreas Rothlin Svensson, Jimmy Lindstromm and Peter Gardiner
Producer: Rebecka Hamberger
Executive Producer:
Original Music: The Soundrack of our Lives
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Country of Origin: Sweden
Language: Swedish with English subtitles
Genre: Comedy

This film isn't one of those ha-ha comedies. Instead it's a tender, funny look at a group of friends following a dream and what they go through to achieve it.

The protagonist is Fredrik, and out-of-work, divorced journalist who as captain of the groups' floor hockey team is very intense and more serious about it then his team members. Even the local recreation center where they play gives preferential treatment to other groups.

When they lose their time slot at the recreation center, the group finds it has no place to go. After getting drunk at a friend's bachelor party, the team makes a synchronized swimming spoof which is a tremendous hit when played at the wedding.

Seeing synchronized swimming as a means to an end to earn money and rent their own floor hockey space, the group accepts an offer to perform at a wealthy woman's party where they promptly bomb.

While there have been many jokes made about synchronized swimming, especially, men's' synchronized swimming, the audience actually learns something new as Fredrik discovers that men's' synchronized swimming has a long established and respectable history and other countries have teams who compete regularly.

Bitten by the competitive bug Fredrik forms the group out of men of varying ages and physiques and they prove to be pretty good. Now the art of synchronized swimming has moved from a means to an end to an means unto itself.

With the chance of going to Berlin for the European championships, Fredrik and his group throw themselves into practice and perfection.

Along the way certain questions and obstacles arise. Although the men in the group are all macho, what should they do when an openly gay man wants to join the group? Fredrik's best friend Charles is the worst performer so should he be allowed to compete if his appearance means they might lose? They've all practiced in a format for nine performers but only eight are allowed according to competition rules, so what should they do?

While the comedy is low-key, the sensitive issues are front and center, and handled in a deft and humane fashion.

The Swimsuit Issue is a truly beautiful film and deals with some very real issues with perception and awareness.