Rob Brydon leads a pro ensemble of amiable UK gents in an audience pleaser that’s altogether pretty hard to dislike – despite being almost relentlessly predictable.
Director Oliver Parker, whose films include both Oscar Wilde adaptations and contemporary St. Trinian’s comedies, did well to convince Brydon to star, as the Would I Lie To You? TV favourite offers a subtle performance of great charm – a long way indeed from his bitchier turns as ‘Himself’ in those The Trip movies.
Middle-aged Eric Scott (Byrdon) is a terminally (and unsurprisingly) bored accountant who’s increasingly estranged from his wife Heather (Jane Horrocks, without much to do) and needs something to keep him from stagnating even further. While out swimming laps one afternoon, he discovers it in ‘Swim Club’, a motley group of guys who find calm and camaraderie in synchronised swimming, although they well know how socially awkward that sounds.
Naturally Eric is asked to join the gang (the first rule is, of course, “We do not talk about Swim Club’”), and he finds himself lightening up as the guys begin to freak out while moving towards becoming professional and competing internationally.
You could hardly miss with a cast that includes Rupert Graves (as would-be lady-killer Luke), Adeel Akhtar (as gay Kurt), Jim Carter (as widower Ted), Daniel Mays (as rubbery construction worker Colin) and Thomas Turgoose (as the significantly younger Tom), and yet when they all start properly training with help from the reluctant Susan (Charlotte Riley), the plot becomes so obvious and clichéd that even they can’t quite keep it truly afloat.
Evidently trying (as so many movies of this ilk do) for a perky, Full Monty-type mood, Parker’s latest doesn’t quite get over the line, but you’ll probably enjoy it anyway. Even the soggy bits.
Swimming With Men (M) is in cinemas now