(2022, 85 min)
Director: Adam Kalderon
Studio: Strand Releasing
Speedos, water, desire... and only one ticket to the Olympics! Erez (Omer Perelman Striks), a rising star in the Israeli swimming scene, arrives at a godforsaken training camp held in a boarding school - where only one winning athlete will get a ticket to the Olympics. There he meets the beautiful and talented Nevo (Asaf Jonas), who awakens subconscious desires in him. However, their swimming coach does not believe in friendship between competitors. Warned to stay away from Nevo, Erez is way too attracted to him to give up completely. In between practices, he attempts to act upon his feelings and comes to believe that winning a medal is less important than winning Nevo's heart. A critically-acclaimed film festival hit from up-and-coming Israeli director Adam Kalderon, The Swimmer is a sexy and boldly provocative crowd-pleaser
“Competitive sports are a tragedy for the body and soul,” Paloma (Nadia Kucher), the house mother at a dumpy training camp for swimmers, sagely tells Erez (Omer Perelman Striks). He’s sitting in an ice bath after working out too hard, the literal chains on his back during push-ups causing him to collapse in pain. An indelicate visual metaphor, perhaps, but the writer-director Adam Kalderon nonetheless renders his film “The Swimmer” with style and rich psychology. Sweat pools around the athlete’s body and the thin line between ambition and obsession is entrancingly legible on Striks’s face.
For Erez, the possibility of an astronomical rise in the world of competitive swimming is on the horizon, just within reach. So is the Olympic dream of his increasingly aggressive and passively homophobic coach, Dima (Igal Reznik). But when Erez finds himself in a somewhat ambiguous tête-à-tête with another swimmer, the almost as good Nevo (Asaf Jonas), he’s torn between what he wants more: sex or success. Dima, ravenous for his own chance at winning, puts the two in psychological warfare with one another.
“The Swimmer” distinguishes itself from other L.G.B.T.Q. sports dramas less in what the story is and more in how it’s told. Kalderon and the cinematographer Ofer Inov make Adonises out of the film’s athletes, but the film goes beyond mere marble-body ogling in its equal attention to the physical, psychological and emotional toll that training takes on Erez and Nevo. Kalderon finds the intensity of desire and competition in the cracks of the statue.
-- Review by Kyle Turner, New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com)