When I started to watch films and review them, I said to myself “don’t become one of thooosee people that watches a French film with English subtitles and then tells everyone about it.” And yet, here I am.
Reading the title ‘Sink or Swim’ one could easily assume this is a film about drowning in your own predicament or floating above the nonsense to enormous success. While your assumption is very correct, there is also an alternate literal take on the term with the focus spent on a group of men who use synchronised swimming to avoid the overwhelming issues in their life. They are all sinking, yet also swimming, and they’re doing it… together.
If we want to talk structure, storyline, trials and tribulations, you’ve probably already seen a story like this before. Think, ‘The Full Monty’, but with water, and speedos that aren’t removed. Bertrand is losing his job, Laurent is getting a divorce, Marcus is going bankrupt, and Thierry is our lovable lark in search of love.
They’re soon accompanied by Claire, a recovering alcoholic and former synchronised swimming champion, who has her own complicated backstory involving a past swim partner. Claire helps the men begin their synchronised swimming journey, but as a coach appears to be too soft, and they’d much rather listen to Claire read them a story than perfect their hobby.
When Claire is suddenly absent from training, her former duet partner Amanda intervenes. Amanda’s tough training style causes some tension between the men, and with their already troubled lives, some begin to unravel.
The multiple story lines only help to keep the film interesting, and it isn’t swayed in its ambitious pursuit to give each character their time to grow. While some stories are expectedly more involved than others, you’re still left with a resounding sense of fulfillment for each teammate; and dare I say, you may shed a tear at their ultimate success (whatever that may look like?).
Who knew I’d enjoy a French comedy film about an amateur group of synchronised swimmers rising above the trials and tribulations of life to become the superstars of the water dancing world? Certainly not me, yet I did, and I suspect you will too.
– Jess Eaton