Director: Gilles Lellouche
Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Guillaume Canet, Benoît Poelvoorde, Virginie Efira
RunTime: 2 hrs 2 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Some Drug Use and Nudity)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 29 November 2018
Synopsis: A group of 40-something guys, all on the verge of a mid-life crisis, decide to form their local pool’s first ever synchronized swimming team – for men. Braving the skepticism and ridicule of those around them, and trained by a fallen champion trying to pull herself together, the group set out on an unlikely adventure, and on the way will rediscover a little self-esteem and a lot about themselves and each other.
There comes a time in every man’s life that he feels there’s nothing else going for him. For some strange melancholic reason, this writer is feeling it as he approaches 40 years of age. While movies like The Full Monty (1997) and Wild Hogs (2007) are attempts at showing the world that unattractive men (read: real bodies with fats, bellies and unglamorous skin tones) can make things fabulous again, this reviewer isn’t so sure that he can pull off a striptease act or zoom through the streets on a Harley bike.
Then along comes this French film – one that puts a group of 40 odd year old men in the spotlight. Each of these guys clearly has issues in his life (family, career or some existentialist problem), but when circumstances put them in a pool, these dudes find themselves forming a synchronised swimming team.
And as movies of this genre have it, the disenchanted characters begin a journey of boosting their confidence and picking up their self esteem. In the mix are a team leader who had fallen from grace, a mix of personalities, the predictable comedy and the obligatory squabbles.
Not that this is a bad thing though, because the world may have had enough feel bad enough movies – why not serve up a candy coated story that promises a happy ending? Besides, it’s a French film and productions from the country rarely fail us.
The 122 minute comedy drama directed by Gilles Lellouche features a fine ensemble. Mathieu Amalric, whom we are familiar as the psychotic villain in Quantum of Solace (2008), is one of the members of the motley crew. The award winning actor, who also headlined The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), plays his character (an everyday man working in a department store) effortlessly. Another familiar face sharing the stage is Guillaume Canet (Love Me If You Dare, The Program). His character has to deal with an aged mother suffering from neurological disorder, which makes his story easy to empathise with.
Other members of the ensemble include Benoît Poelvoorde, Jean Hugues Anglade and Philippe Katerine who deliver decent performances. Virginie Efira and Leïla Bekhti who form the female cast hold their ground as well.
One wishes there were more sequences showcasing the men’s synchronised swimming. After fumbling through some sessions, the practices apparently get more intense but these are not shown on screen. It seems like a wasted opportunity to make the movie more entertaining. The final competition, which is understandably the highlight of the movie, is good enough a reason why you should catch this feel good flick.
The film also tries to explore some society issues but they are not in depth enough to make a statement. We are guessing someone in the film production team decided that it is still more worthwhile to focus on a group of men who are out of shape but yet retaining the entertainment values through laughs, visual gags and a takeaway message that you should be who you are.
(A formulaic and feel good drama comedy that doesn’t ask for too much from its viewers)
Review by John Li