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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » Swimfan
Swimfan
Fox // PG-13 // September 6, 2002
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted September 9, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Australian director John Polson's directorial debut is an odd feature - a thriller that should be menacing and energetic that's instead muted and flat. Unfortunately, "Swimfan" proceeds this way throughout, acting like it's A-level drama when it's really genre trash. The film stars Jesse Bradford ("Bring It On") as Ben Cronin, a high school senior who, as the film opens, is in the middle of preparing for a big swim meet, where the school will be visited by Stanford recruiters. At the same time, he's also planning his future with girlfriend Amy Miller (the Katie Holmes-ish Shiri Appleby).

However, Ben runs into new girl Madison Belle (Erika Christensen, who was Michael Douglas's daughter in "Traffic") and the two become friendly. Yet, when Ben wants to leave it at that, Madison doesn't accept and corners him in the pool. One one night stand later, Ben starts to see Madison more often - whether he likes it or not. Soon enough, she's making sure he fails the drug test for his swim meet and worse.

Certainly, previous contenders in this area of film include "The Crush" with Alicia Silverstone and "Wicked", an early Julia Stiles picture. While neither of those films were well-crafted work, they clearly understood the kind of picture they were and, as a result, really let loose. "Swimfan" director Polson manages to create little-or-no tension in the picture thanks to an opening half that moves along at a sluggish pace and actors - usually decent ones - who seem to have been told to underplay. Christensen seems to suffer worst; there's little flair or menace to the performance for most of the picture. Bradford is equally bland, although Appleby is sincere and enjoyable in a small role.

Technically, the film is about as muted as its performances, as Giles Nuttgens's cinematography is crisp and cold, with enjoyable compositions but a subdued appearance. Editing is less enjoyable, as the film consistently puts to use an odd jump-cutting technique that does little aside from call attention to itself. One of those most irritating elements of all is the score, as the film puts heavy metal to rock in scenes where it entirely doesn't fit. It's certainly yet another one of those films where more concern seems to be towards selling the soundtrack. To top it off, the script by Phillip Schneider and Charles Bohl offers either plot holes or laughable dialogue.

"Swimfan" really had the potential to be trashy fun, but it's unfortunately simply dull, an 82-minute thriller that feels twice that long.

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