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Slamdance Film Festival 2000

- Indie -

Every now and then a film comes along that genuinely delights you with its simplicity and elegance. Robert J. Siegel's Swimming, debuting out of competition at Slamdance, is funny, charming and unexpectedly moving. Director Siegel, working from an understated and beautifully detailed screenplay, gets especially fine work from a gifted ensembel of young actors, with a standout performance that will touch your heart by Lauren Ambrose (Psycho Beach Party, Can't Hardly Wait). Audiences left the crowded screening room at the Treasure Mountain Inn wanting more of Swimming.

***** Matthew Ogens - Slamdance

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A well crafted story by newcomer Lisa Bazadona, Swimming is a film about youth that avoids cartoonish depictions and breaks the stereotypes regarding young people. The film is an emotional character driven narrative starring an amazing performance by Lauren Ambrose (Can't Hardly Wait, Psycho Beach Party). Also starring Jennifer Dundas Lowe, Joelle Carter, and Jamie Harrold (Erin Brockovich). Ambrose brings life to Frankie Wheeler, an introverted young woman who works in her family's restaurant on the boardwalk of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Dundas Lowe plays Nicola, her domineering best friend, who owns a piercing shop. Surrounding the two is a cast of oddball characters who live on the beach year round. Neither is prepared for the arrival of two characters who have a profound effect on their lives.

In films, young people are defined through their group identities. In Swimming, everyone has a distinct personality; subcultural identity is only a backdrop. The striking thing abou the film is that Siegel was secure enough as a director to let the characters tell stories without words, capturing feelings through the nuances of behavior and gestures. Most character driven films are overrun with dialogue. That being said, the film takes its time revealing the complexity of the characters at a pace that lends authenticity to the story and depth to the characters.

Another striking thing about the film is the lack of sexual ambiguity. Definitely the film cannot be placed in the Lesbian/Gay genre, even though it does deal with the same-sex intimacy. The film offers a realistic and refreshing departure from the exploitive and flamboyant nature in which filmmakers lean in the present day regarding same sex relationships.

Swimming is definitely more honest than other films about young people. Today, many creative and smart young people work in restaurants and tattoo parlors, choosing to live more personally fulfilling and sublime lives. The film peeks in on the characters without judgement, using a more voyeuristic tendency, which is much to the credit of the writers and director. It gives a person the feeling that they can very much relate and sympathize with the characters.

*****Scott Belbin - Slamdance

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- New York Independant Film Monitor -

Deserving of praise is New Yorker Robert J. Siegel's "Swimming" which offers a fresh perspective on the bittersweet realities of friendship told with local flavor straight from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

*****Julie Slotnik - Slamdance

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Also heading for the Netherlands are Viet Helmer's "Tuvulu" and Robert Siegel's Swimming. Swimming is a charming coming of age story that won me over through a sweet performance by Lauren Ambrose.

*****Bryan Wendorf - Slamdance

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