Saturday, September 26, 2020

Swimming for Gold: Movie Review

Mediocre production, nothing to elevate the overcoming-the-odds inspirational story.
Swimming for Gold is squarely directed towards its teen/pre-teen audience, but even if I put myself in 12-year-old me’s shoes, I assume I would be disappointed by this. It’s a mediocre production that tries to squeeze in all the important beats of overcoming-the-odds inspirational story. None of the story lines are appropriately fleshed out to help connect the audience.   2020

Directed by: Hayley MacFarlane

Screenplay by: Eric Bergemann

Starring: Peyton List, Daniel Needs

Claire (Peyton List) was at the US Olympic qualifiers when an undisclosed fear took over her and she froze on the diving block, and then (in a sequence which drove me nuts) when she tried to get away and pushed through a crowd of reporters, one of them fell in the pool. What the movie actually showed was a reporter who tripped into the pool as Claire tried to get past, but given the narrative that followed, what the movie intended to show was Claire forcefully pushing the reporter into the pool, such that the swimming community wouldn’t even accept her apologies. This is the defining moment of the movie, it gets repeated throughout the rest of the movie, that I suggest they probably should have gotten it right. Hire a stunt actor, shoot it better, edit it better, whatever you have to do, otherwise we’re starting the movie off on the wrong foot.

Regardless, Claire is now taking a swimming break. Napping, snacking, lounging about, so her dad gets her a job as a coach for the Australian national team. Claire is approximately the same age, with a similar level of swimming experience to all the swimmers on the team, and with no coaching experience, but we just have to get past that.

The main set-ups is that Claire will be coaching the male team; it’s captained by a super cute boy who is serious about his swimming career; she is rooming with her bitter rival who is on the girls team; the coach she’s working for is a new-age space cadet. While, Claire of course, has no intention of doing anything other than napping, snacking and lounging about.

Most of the movie is just Claire not coaching because the boys team thinks she’s a joke, so she lets them do nothing, the captain being annoyed with her, and all of that is done without comedy. And then Claire quickly changes course and gets her act together. The romance comes later, the reveal of the origin of her fear and the reconciliation with her rival all get the short-end of the movie, but all of which could have been more substantial to help get the audience more invested.