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Jennifer Jason Leigh,
New Jersey high school senior Ben Cronin is a former juvenile delinquent, whose past criminal behavior was fueled by and for drug use. He credits the support of his now long time girlfriend Amy Miller and getting into competitive swimming as the primary reasons for turning his life around, which includes working part-time at the hospital where his single mother works. He has become the star swimmer of his high school team, so much so that scouts from Stanford University are coming in a week's time to watch Ben swim. Ben has a new swim fan in Madison Bell, a recent transfer student to Ben's high school. Despite Ben making it clear that he is in a committed relationship, Madison seduces him, the seduction to which he succumbs. They agree afterward that their encounter was a one-time only event, but Ben slowly comes to the realization that despite Madison's assertions to the contrary, she has more in mind with him. He feels her constant unspoken threats to expose their tryst and ... Written by
We've seen this idea before, in other films like "Fatal Attraction" (1987) and "The Crush" (1993). A woman obsesses about a man, and won't let go. Given the high school age of the main characters in "Swimfan", and given background music that is mostly sophomoric, the film is clearly targeted at people under the age of twenty-five.
Ben Cronin (Jesse Bradford) is annoyingly smug. He's your prototype high school pop jock. He drives around in a macho-looking pickup truck. Madison Bell (lovely Erika Christensen) gets a crush on Ben and, even knowing he already has a girlfriend, stalks him relentlessly; she's his femme fatale. Conveniently unstable and manipulative, Madison makes trouble for Ben with one plot contrivance after another.
The script has a setup that is too long. And the second half of the script has action that is wildly improbable. Madison just seems to appear from out of nowhere in the most unlikely places, and at just the right time. Her efforts are too easy, especially as they relate to hospital security and police procedures. It's as if she has superhuman powers, not an effect you want to impart as a storyteller, unless your story fits in the sci-fi or fantasy genre, which this film does not.
If the script is weak, the acting is generally pretty good, with reasonably effective performances from Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen, and James DeBello as Dante. The film's color cinematography is fine. And I also liked the editing, with jump cuts that neatly corresponded with Madison's state of mind.
"Swimfan" is not a bad movie. But its premise is unoriginal, and the plot structure is faulty. A script rewrite or two might have rendered a better cinematic outcome. However, other elements of the film are fine. And for the right audience, this film does have some entertainment value, at least for a one-time viewing.
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