|Relax, sit back, and enjoy this charming, well-acted coming-of-age film.
''Who is this actress Lauren Ambrose? I had never heard of her, then she goes and has the starring role in the delightfully hilarious Psycho Beach Party. Apparently, she's one of those young character actresses that has been quietly sneaking into filmdom with secondary roles in teen flicks like Can't Hardly Wait.
Anyways, so I discover her as a fabulous comic actress in Psycho Beach, and here she goes and blows me away with a subtle dramatic role as a different type of beach girl. Frankie is a tomboy that lives in Myrtle Beach, a seaside town overtaken by partying kids every summer. Seeing her wandering around in a t-shirt and overalls in the boardwalk area made me think of a similar visit I had to Los Angeles one winter... There was a freak spell of 95-degree weather, and there I was, completely pale and wearing dark clothes, surrounded by toned, tan roller-blading people wearing only a thong each. <shudder> Needless to say, I could really relate to Frankie.
Frankie accepts to herself that she is going to have a typical summer: She works at the diner that she owns with her brother, she puts up with her hyperventilating wild-child best friend Nicola (Jennifer Dundas) who owns the piercing shop next door, and wanders home ever night instead of going out with the partiers.
But this summer, things change. Into Frankie's life come two intriguing strangers: Josee (Joelle Carter) a sexy waitress that blows into town and starts work at the diner, and Heath (Jamie Harrold), a totally cute pothead-living-in-a-van boy that takes a shine to Frankie. Josee takes an interest in Frankie (kind of like the most popular girl including you in the crowd) and Frankie becomes a bit smitten by the attention... obviously enough to send her friend Nicola into one of her many defensive jealous rages. At the same time, Frankie is tentatively interested in Heath (their first date involves her throwing up outside the van after toking from a honey bear bottle). Needless to say, things change, friendships evolve and devolve, and Frankie is older and wiser at the end of the summer.
Swimming is a very subtle film... Lauren Ambrose as Frankie often has a vague detached expression on her face, so it is a delight when you see Frankie's face change ever-so-slightly (whether in jealousy, curiosity, or happiness). You feel like you are let into her world. The rest of the actors are fine as well. Jennifer Dundas as Nicola could very easily been over-the-top and annoying (she reminded me of a spazzing-out young Anne Heche), but seeing her moments of rejection, you kind of have to feel for her.
The movie is gently-paced and gradual. I heard some people in the audience complain that it was slow and boring and nothing happened. But I disagree. Relax, sit back, and enjoy this charming, well-acted coming-of-age film. And let's hope that Lauren Ambrose's star keeps rising!
# # #
|Return to Press Page|