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Director: Colin Kennedy
Starring: Elena Anaya, Owen McDonnell, Elizabeth McGovern
For Colin Kennedy's first attempt at directing a feature, Swung is a solid double, which could be a baseball or a swingers reference, take you pick. It's a better, Scottish, much more serious version of Swinging with the Finkels, which wasn't a good movie at all, so there was really only one way to go from there. As far as I know, there haven't been a ton of swing-curious movies produced, and least more mainstream, non-pornographic ones, as it's a weird and touchy subject, something that isn't exactly comfortable to sit down in from of and watch with your mate. Still, Swung works as an audacious hack the ball, one where you don't get the most beautiful hit, but at least you made contact.
Alice and David are in couples counseling, mostly on account of David's impotence and anxiety around all things sexual. It's a new problem, the young couple were happy before, but recently he just can't get it up, and if Alice makes any sort of move to fulfill her own desires it results in a row that is centered on David's shame and embarrassment. Alice is a journalist, David is a failed designer, which doesn't help his confidence level, and he's also dealing with an ex-wife who doesn't want him to spend much time with his daughter, with official divorce papers hovering over his head as well. It's not really the best time in his life, and the fact that he freaks out every Alice puts on the moves isn't helping matters much.
Her newest story is an expose on the swinging community, an idea brought on by David's casual joining of a swingers website. It was a joke at first, but couples actually responded, and David actually got turned on, so Alice is beginning to think that she might be able to kill two birds with one stone. She can experience what it's like to share a partner first hand, and she can also potentially please a boyfriend who doesn't seem able to be pleased. But first you have to get started, have to meet other swingers, and that's the awkward part. And even if you can get past your own inhibitions, there's still the actually going through with it, with no knowledge of whether or not sex with complete strangers will fix things or break them irrevocably.
For a rather amateur attempt, Swung could have been much, much worse. It's a tough subject, it's very adult and progressive, and some people simply won't want to watch a film about swinging. Because it's not simply a rom/com that involves slight experimentation, this is a serious drama about a failing relationship, one that can't escape its connection to and dependence on sex. There is a good amount of nudity, some barriers will be broken, your comfort zone might be stretched, so go in prepared to expand, and don't watch with your parents. I'm not sure how couples would respond to watching this film together, whether it would be a turn on or a conversation piece, an eye-opener or simply a dramatic movie. It's a bit of all those things, while also being a story about a romance that has lost almost all of its own.
American audiences won't really recognize these actors; one is Spanish, the other Irish, and neither are huge stars. Elena Anaya has done a few known films though; she was the evil doctor in Wonder Woman and the sexy brunette in Room in Rome. She's fairly strong in Swung, though not remarkable, and I think the same could be said for Owen McDonnell, who is fine but not spectacular. Elizabeth McGovern makes an appearance, and she's solid, but her part is rather small. Taken as a whole, this film is a daring and devilish look into the world of swingers, how it is made up of very normal people with very normal problems, but also how it might not be the healthiest way to deal. At the same time, the individual elements won't hold up when set on their own, but that might simply be a product of inexperience.
Video: With an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 Widescreen and shot using an Arri Alexa camera, the video quality of the DVD is adequate, but not grand. Much of the theme of the film is darkness, the bedroom, sexy situations, so you won't see a ton of color and brightness, and Alice even remarks on how dismal Scotland is, so don't expect to be blown away by the visuals. Look for soft and somber moments that stand out; there are a few.
Audio: The disc is done in English Dolby Digital audio, with a choice between 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo. Subtitles are available in English. That's it for the sound, and while the music isn't memorable, I do think that the dialogue was nicely done and well-balanced. The sound was never choppy, it was always evenly distributed, and I never felt like the audio got away from the director, which is something.
Extras: There are no bonus features on this DVD.
Recommended. I appreciated Swung more than I perhaps thought that I would, and not only for the sex. The acting was commendable, the story was laid bare, the characters were honest, and I thought the directing was rather nice. And there was enough sex, it was never a tease, you got what you came for, but it never went overboard to an unbelievable place. There's a conversation to be had surrounding this film, and while it isn't the perfect picture, it can at least say that it pushed audiences a bit further than typical Hollywood fare. The video is fine, the audio good, you won't be blown away by those attributes, but neither will you be disappointed, but there aren't any special features on the disc, so don't put too much faith in the technical aspects. I guess this amounts to a middle-of-the-road movie as far as quality is concerned, but the content can't be denied, and it's worth something on its own.