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Vindication Swim

UK 2024
produced by
Sally Humphreys Wood, Douglas McJannet, Simon Hasler, Kirsten Callaghan (executive), Mike Green (executive), Nicola Pearcey (executive), Matt Pearcey (executive) for Relsah Films, Sea High Productions, Arden Entertainment, Picnik Entertainment
directed by Elliott Hasler
starring Kirsten Callaghan, John Locke, Victoria Summer, Douglas Hodge, James Wilby, Justin Hayward, Sam Bullen, Matthew Wyn Davies, Mike Skinner, John Tolputt, Anthony Arundell, David Aitchison, Owen Oldroyd, James Wingate, Culann Smyth, Melodie Tyrer, Tim Loughton, Kenneth Omole, Chloe Heaver, Michael Cronin, James Heath, Jamie Cranfield, Bob Broad, Kerri Hedley-Cheney, Jamie Langlands, Edward Miller, Alice Rogers, Tim Secrett, Luke Shaw, Russell Shaw, Scott Welch
written by Elliott Hasler, music by Daniel Clive McCallum

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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For all of her life, Mercedes Gleitze (Kirsten Callaghan) has dreamed about being the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Seven times she has tried already, and seven times she has failed, her last attempt two years ago ending in utter exhaustion. Now it's 1927, and American Gertrude Ederle (Melodie Tyrer) has just become the first female swimmer to cross the Channel, much to Mercedes' disappointment. But her ambition has never waned, and again she's on the look-out for sponsors and coaches to at least become the first British woman to swim across. Thing is, the Swimming Association under Sir Coleridge (John Tolputt) is already backing another woman, Edith Gade (Victoria Summer), whose attempt is only months away, and from her meagre budget, Mercedes can only manage to hire washed up former championship swimmer Harold Best (John Locke) as her coach - and she has little time if she wants to make her swim before Edith. However, her talent, determination and physical prowess see to it that she succeeds in her endeavour - and for some weeks afterwards, she's celebrated as a bona fide celebrity. But then, Edith makes the swim as well, and manages to do it in two hours less, a record Mercedes cannot believe for various reasons - and soon enough she's proven right in her suspicion as Edith's record is proven to be a hoax. Thing is, with Edith having cheated, Mercedes' record is put in doubt as well, and she has to defend it in front of a commitee that seems to have already come to the conclusion to revoke the record. So Mercedes, tired of fighting, decides to prove them all wrong - by crossing the Channel one more time ...

 

A very engaging sports drama, especially since it avoids the mistake of too many movies of its ilk out there to make its story overly "inspiring" and push for a happy ending a bit too hard. Instead, Vindication Swim is basically a character piece with its highs and lows and not quite the ending one would expect - and it's all the better for it. And of course, a very solid ensemble cast also helps in this respect. Plus, one mustn't forget the quite artistic camerawork that alternates between black and white and colour with the greatest of ease and goes for carefully framed pictures rather than just letting the (often aleady impressive) locations speak for themselves, giving the film a very special flare. And all of this put together makes for a pretty awesome watch, actually.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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