If you have followed this blog over a number of years, then you will know that my movie-watching habits are limited to occasions when I travel on long haul flights. I cannot claim, therefore, to be anywhere approaching a seasoned critic or an aficionado, but I do usually find one or more films which make me reflect on important issues in the real world, and when I do, I like to share these thoughts. This is exactly what happened when I recently flew out to Asia, and I stumbled across ‘Swimming With Men’.
Starring Rob Brydon, amongst other recognisable actors – Rupert Graves and Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter, for example – this is the story of a disaffected accountant who stumbles across (and joins) a male synchronised swimming team. It is a humorous and honest reflection of the joys and tribulations of genuine male friendship, and was a light, enjoyable (and heart-warming) watch – well, I enjoyed it, anyway!
What I found particularly refreshing was the fact that this film just allows men to be men – not pitted against, or compared with, women; not denigrating women or trying to be better than women. If anything, it pokes fun at the ridiculous expectations that society makes of women – in one scene, for example, the men are relieved that they aren’t expected to wear the glossy makeup and smile of their female counterparts. And their (competitive and highly effective) coach is a woman who really knows her stuff. It was just so nice to watch something that was, quite frankly, normal.
Of course, the reason why this film is worth remarking upon is that it is unusual. The results of the Bechdel test regularly reveal that ordinary, fun female friendship continues to be un-represented in film. Sigh. Still so much to do in this world. Still, if Swimming With Men can be a success, then there is perhaps hope for us all.