The Swimmer is released later this year through Peccadillo Pictures.
Looking at the stills from Adam Kalderon’s The Swimmer, you would be forgiven for thinking this is simply another slice of poolside eye candy for those gay men who love their men tight, muscular and sporting skimpy speedos. However, Kalderson’s movie is so much more. The Swimmer laces the visual beauty of its dripping wet swimmers with a sense of impending doom and closeted fear as the darker world of elite sport is placed under the microscope.
Erez (Omer Perelman Striks) has set his eyes on a coveted Olympic swimming place as he arrives at an elite residential training programme alongside five other talented swimmers. However, behind Erez’s smile and confidence lies a sense of sadness and a deep need for escape. His journey to this point has been dictated by a father who once dreamed of Olympic success and a secret as deep as the water he glides through; his love of men.
As Erez settles into the stark, unloving and controlling world around him, he develops a secret attraction for one of his teammates, Nevo (Asaf Jonas). Their trainer Dema (Igal Reznik), plays with the boy’s expectations and controls every second of their world, and it’s not long before Dema instructs Erez to distance himself from Nevo, who is clearly becoming a distraction. As the world around Erez contracts and distorts, his secret desires scream for release, and the pool becomes a watery prison of no escape.
We all know that the world of elite sports is ruthless and insular. Athletes push themselves to the very edges of what the body can do for that brief yet intoxicating rush of victory and triumph. Many athletes start their careers as children, their daily lives, a controlled pattern of relentless training, dietary control, and competition. This commitment to success sees many forgo the everyday pleasures of life we all take for granted as we grow into adults. Meanwhile, the end of their career is often wrapped in loss and grief as they suddenly realise they have nowhere to go.
This relentless need for control and success sits at the heart of Erez’s journey, his life given over to the pool as he attempts to make everyone happy and proud. From the start of Kalderson’s film, it’s clear that Erez is slowly drowning in expectations he cannot control. These impossible expectations also sit at the heart of his inner battle with his sexual orientation as he attempts to cover his desires in public while embracing them in his brief moments of solitude and escape. Here Kalderon explores the institutional homophobia that still surrounds elite sporting life, as everyone around Erez hides their feelings and emotions, fearing being seen and labelled as weak.
In creating this insular and cold world, Adam Kalderon builds on his experiences as an Olympic contender, his intimate knowledge of the darkness surrounding the sporting arena shining through the sun-drenched landscapes, tan lines and toned physiques. This creates a movie drenched in beauty, fear, passion and isolation, where you can almost smell the sterile training venue’s testosterone, sweat and chlorine. Meanwhile, the delicious cinematography of Ofer Inov and the stunning art direction of Udi Tugendreich provides The Swimmer with an Almodóvar inspired look and feel. But it is within the film’s final act that The Swimmer truly finds its unique artistic voice as we watch Erez blossom, his last race, a synchronised dance routine rooted in his need to be free.
THE SHINY SHRIMPS
In creating this insular and cold world, Adam Kalderon builds on his experiences as an Olympic contender, his intimate knowledge of the darkness surrounding the sporting arena shining through the sun-drenched landscapes, tan lines and toned physiques. This creates a movie drenched in beauty, fear, passion and isolation, where you can almost smell the sterile training venue’s testosterone, sweat and chlorine.