A rare thing to see in cinemas nowadays is a gentle, inoffensive comedy that actually delivers genuine laughs. Most big screen brit-coms resort to cringe-inducing, self-deprecating humour or foul-mouthed tirades to gain a guffaw, and many certainly succeed. But there’s something to be said for comedies that make a go of making the audience laugh without resorting to more risqué material. Swimming With Men makes a brave go of it, with its real-life tale of synchronised swimming.
Rob Brydon stars as Eric, an unfulfilled accountant, emasculated and struggling to find his purpose when his wife (Jane Horrocks) becomes a high-flying city councillor. Finding solace with a similar group of middle aged men at his local leisure pool, he soon finds himself joining their synchronised swim team, which begins to return his sense of purpose and help him escape the drudgery of everyday life.
From the off, the film makes it clear it has more to say and comment upon then just going for easy, laddish laughs. Each character is painted with plenty of flaws and foibles, which all contribute to the film’s exploration of masculinity in the modern world. It’s hardly thought-provoking or revolutionary, but the underlying themes give the film more depth then it otherwise would have had without.
The characters may be flawed, but they are certainly no less funny as a result. It could have been all too easy for Eric to become an unsympathetic figure, but thanks to a witty script and a charismatic performance from Brydon, it works. The chemistry between the six male leads is a joy to watch, with much of the humour coming from the interplay between them. Thomas Turgoose is particularly hilarious as the kind-hearted kleptomaniac Tom, whilst both Daniel Mays and Jim Carter lend the film much of it’s heart.
The direction from Oliver Parker (Johnny English Reborn, Dad’s Army) is another feather in the film’s cap, with beautiful underwater photography utilised to service the character development, as well as imbue the film with some arresting, symmetrical visuals. The synchronised swimming sequences are equally arresting, whilst the entire film is lifted to another level by composer Charlie Mole’s sumptuous score.
A warm, fuzzy, feel-good picture that elicits plenty of chuckles and some touching moments to boot, Swimming With Men presents engaging characters and aims for feels as well as funnies. The fact it doesn’t sink as a result speaks volumes about how enjoyable it truly is.
Dir: Oliver Parker
Prd: Maggie Monteith
Scr: Aschlin Ditta
Starring: Rob Brydon, Jane Horrocks, Rupert Graves, Adeel Akhtar, Daniel Mays, Jim Carter, Thomas Turgosse, Charlotte Riley
DOP: David Raedeker
Editor: Liana Del Giudice
Music: Charlie Mole
Runtime: 96 minutes
Available on Digital and DVD now.