Swimming With Men

Saturday February 23rd

Rated 12A

Starring Rob Brydon, Jane Horrocks, Rupert Graves, Daniel Mays, Thomas Turgoose, Jim Carter, Adeel Akhtar and Charlotte Riley. It was directed by Oliver Parker.

Eric Scott (Rob Brydon) is the “apex variable”, or “the point around which everything pivots”. Or at least his midlife crisis is, causing him to question his marriage to newly elected Lib Dem councillor Heather (Jane Horrocks) and consider packing in his job as an accountant. After getting tanked on gin and tonics, he joins a synchronised swimming club of troubled men who collectively resemble, as one character puts it, “the wheat-intolerant Village People”. Swim club is, according to its members, “a protest against the end of dreams” and “who we’ve become”, making them sound like a faction of Fathers 4 Justice.

Based on the true story of a group of Swedish men who competed in the synchronised swimming world championship, Swimming With Me is reminiscent of The Full Monty, its feelgood climax landing with a welcome, if gentle, splash. Director Oliver Parker’s camera frequently dips below the pool’s surface, showing the men’s quiet epiphanies while submerged and supported by their team-mates, though it’s easy to lose patience with Eric’s particular problems, the result of a lack of self-awareness.

There’s an icky, eye roll-inducing moment of middle-aged man wish fulfilment, too, when divorced silver fox Luke (Rupert Graves) cracks on to Susan (Charlotte Riley), the considerably younger swim coach.

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