The Swimmer

When you talk about The Swimmer will you talk about yourself?

95 min     7.286     1968     USA


Well-off ad man Ned Merrill is visiting a friend when he notices the abundance of backyard pools that populate their upscale suburb. Ned suddenly decides that he'd like to travel the eight miles back to his own home by simply swimming across every pool in town. Soon, Ned's journey becomes harrowing; at each house, he is somehow confronted with a reminder of his romantic, domestic and economic failures.


CinemaSerf wrote:
"Ned" (Burt Lancaster) has been away for a while so his neighbours are a bit surprised to see him, clad only in his trunks, swimming in their pool. After some chat with them, he discovers that barring the odd bit of terrain to cross, he can pretty much swim his way home through the pools of other neighbours/friends/acquaintances - a river and even a public lido... The film now follows him as this rather unique journey introduces us to his community, and to his own interesting, complicated and lively backstory. I could run to all sorts of amateur psychology about my understanding of what each stop means to him; to those with whom he stops, and to those of us watching - for the adaptation of the pretty depressing Cheever short story would certainly indulge that; but I felt this was more of a testament to an always slightly under-rated actor in Lancaster. He starred in some superb films over his career, and this - with him almost entirely en cueros, with his soul likewise just as scantily attired, allows us to gradually understand where his character has been, and to guess, maybe, where he might be going. Kim Hunter maybe stands out amongst the supporting cast, but I'm not sure that any of them outdo the other - they all fulfil their function adequately offering us a myriad of possibilities for his current and past behaviour. The ending is especially poignant and as an ingenious and imaginative piece of cinema, this takes some beating.