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The New York Post

Take the plunge
A refreshingly authentic coming-of-age tale.
eptember 13, 2002
Megan Turner

It's a long, hot lazy summer in Myrtle Beach, S.C. - not much doin', you know the feeling. Nothing much happens, really, in "Swimming" - but it doesn't happen in a charming, unhurried way that still manages to evoke a wistful sense of youth and its small, but deeply affecting tribulations.

Writer-director Robert J. Siegel's deceptively simple coming-of-age tale centers around the flame-haired Frankie (Lauren Ambrose, who filmed this before her Emmy-nominated role in HBO's "Six Feet Under").

Frankie hides her budding adolescence beneath overalls, but the plain-Jane look can't mask Ambrose's natural luminosity - and her intelligent performance provides the heart of this understated indie.

As the small resort town of Myrtle Beach steadies itself against the influx of summer tourists, Frankie - who, with her older brother, runs a two-bit diner that was left to them by their retired parents - is feeling slightly restless.

Siegel nicely contrasts her pale introspection with the hordes of tanned, bikini-clad hardbodies that crowd the boardwalk.

Two strangers in town ignite sparks at the edges of her ennui: Heath (Jamie Harrold), a puppy-ish drifter who sells tie-dyed T-shirts from his van; and Josee (Joelle Carter), a willowy, manipulative blonde who quickly has Frankie under her spell - much to the chagrin of Nicola (Jennifer Dundas Lowe), Frankie's tart-tongued best friend who works in a body-piercing shop.

There's nothing particularly startling or new in the script by Siegel and his co-writers Lisa Bazadona and Grace Woodard - except that it, refreshingly, draws its characters in real-life shades of gray.

Coupled with richly detailed performances from Carter, Lowe - and particularly the mesmerizing Ambrose - that makes this little film a pleasant diversion for those already missing the carefree days of summer.

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