›› The Swimmer ‹‹

a film by Adam Kalderon.

2021 | 83 mins | Israel.

a sensuous insight into the world of competitive sports.

Dave says:

From writer and director Adam Kalderon who ironically never liked swimming, comes this sensuous insight into the world of competitive sports.

For this is the story of Erez (Omer Perelman Striks); rising star of the professional swimming circuit and a young man whose place on the national Olympic team is all but guaranteed, provided that is he can concentrate on training and not be distracted by the manly delights of his fellow teammates and in particular all-round cutie Nevo (Asaf Jonas); namely his competitor for the top slot. Not out to his family and in particular to a father who sees in his son the success that evaded him in the pool, even if Erez' true passion is for dance, it soon becomes apparent to coach Dema (Igal Reznik) that Erez' and Nevo's friendship is becoming too close for comfort. Only what can you do, when you fall in love with your rival for Olympic glory?

Complete with the seemingly requisite shower scene, even if the footage of all over body shaving is surprisingly modest by comparison, this is a film that goes out of its way to showcase not only the intense training and total commitment that it takes to be the best in your chosen field, but also the at times bitter dog-eat-dog rivalry between individual players. To that end Striks of Hardcore (the short film, that is) fame and who had previously worked with the director, wonderfully encapsulates his character; one moment pushing his body to its limits and the next being pushed himself ever closer to the edge by a coach intent on basking in the glory of Erez' success, only for the man to be forbidden to sample the joy of love by way of his friendship with Nero that has his closeted sexuality all but ready to explode at any given moment.

Sure, there's an ogle-fest of hunks in trunks, well speedos to be precise; let alone more buffed to perfection torsos than seen in a copy of Physique Pictorial. But that said, Kalderon keeps his eye on the race for victory, with both his direction and the accompanying score nicely building up the films' tension toward the crucial competition that will decide who will be selected for Olympic glory, only for the swim-off to be well put it this way, certainly different to what you will have been expecting to see and that's putting it mildly! All of which makes for a finale that will delight some, yet equally disappoint others, even if the celluloid clues were there to see all along. That the film belongs to Striks is all but obvious, backed as he is with fine support notably from Nadia Kucher as Paloma; a former Olympic gymnast turned the compassionate soul of the training camp and Jonas as a man who longs for gold as much as Erez does, only for their relationship to be clearly that of a one-sided love affair, even if Kalderon would like to think that he keeps you guessing until the manscaping truth is revealed.

True, the script fails to shine the spotlight on the institutionalized homophobia in sport to the degree that I dare say, many would have wanted. But that said, this is not a work of that nature; for that check out the insightful documentary The Last Taboo. Rather this is an uplifting coming-of-age story about a young man finding the inner strength to finally be his sexual self, as set within the highly competitive field of elite swimming. Moreover, it's a film that poignantly questions the definition of success; that of achieving sporting glory with all of the financial rewards that go hand in hand with winning, only to choose to be forever closeted to the world, or being proud to show your true sexual self to one and all.

That many a gay athlete has failed to achieve their full potential in years gone by, all but hampered by being closeted to those around them and to the public at large by way of a profession awash with homophobia, goes without saying. But it's thanks to every professional athlete who in coming out of the sporting closet today not only makes it easier for other gay sportsmen and women to do the same, but moreover makes being openly gay in sport not an oxymoron; rather a wondrous part of the diversity of the game itself. Only and as this well-played work exemplifies; that's often far easier said, than done. Say no more.

›› available as part of the PECCADILLO PICTURES catalogue: 23rd May, 2022 / UK.
›› posted: Thursday, 9th June, 2022.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - the full monty | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› copyright © 2022 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
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