"Swimming With Men is comparable with The Full Monty but in Speedos!"
Rob Brydon is in the central role of Eric, a dispirited accountant who seems intent on destroying his life in general, and marriage. At first his character comes across as slightly cutting, until we gradually warm to him.
Brydon on his role “I do think it’s come at a time when a lot of men are perhaps wondering what their role is. It’s certainly not as clearly defined as it was. So I think it’s quite timely in that sense.”
Inspiration for the film was drawn from the documentary Men Who Swim (2010), which follows a group of middle-aged Swedish men in their quest within the realm of synchronised swimming. The two films were produced by Stewart Le Maréchal.
After Dad’s Army, director Oliver Parker gets to the heart of Eric’s frustration. And purposefully we see him solitarily sink underwater, struggling to breathe. A fine metaphor, I would say to place emphasis on his depression. The local swimming pool acts as a form of solace to him, getting away from a meaningless job and a strained marriage to wife Heather (Jane Horrocks). It could be the disconcertment in his marriage he is in part to blame for.
Horrocks plays a newly elected local councillor, who’s enthusiastic about the role. Eric interprets this to mean her interest in him has faded, and as a result withdraws into himself. But during his time at the swimming pool he encounters a group of men who provide him with a new lease of life, in exchange for his mathematical knowledge to bring about changes to their ‘rotating formation.’ Eric joins forces with the synchronised swimming team and a new zest for life is established.
At first everyone maintains an element of privacy as far as their personal lives are concerned but with the help of their coach, so do they gradually come out of themselves. But the question is ‘will they get their personal lives in sync with their training schedule, as they set out on this journey to Milan, competing in the World Championships?’
Charlotte Riley takes on the role of coach, Susan, she says “...actors …love an opportunity to learn a new skill, so I was like ‘brilliant, I get to learn how to synchronise swim …it’s going to be amazing’. On the acting challenges she faced while shooting, chiefly the hours she spent in a swimming pool, she further adds “You’ve got to eat a lot because you’re in a pool all day and burning a lot of energy.’
In-demand actor Daniel Mays describes filming as “physically gruelling” but embraced the opportunity to do Comedy.
Mays is known to many for police officer Danny Waldron, whom he played in Line Of Duty. Daniel has worked with the director before on Dad’s Army.
The film does not come to a logical end after the against-the-oddsmen’s world synchronised swimming championships but instead there’s an additional scene, where Eric braves publicly humiliating himself for the sake of salvaging his marriage.
And the characters aren’t fleshed out properly, the comedy is also inconsistent, given a strong Cast is onboard.
Swimming With Men is still likely to take in numbers at the box office but not match those of either The Full Monty or Calendar Girls.