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Swept Away (2002)
Swept away, wrongly swept under the carpet.
OK OK, it's no 'snatch' nor is it 'lock stock'. First of all, well done to Guy Ritchie for breaking potential typecasting! Do we really want a director that only directs the same genre of movie over and over? Granted they are great movies, but how about some respect for having the guts to go out on a limb? This movie was doomed to fail before it was even finished. The ironic thing is that people (and reviewers) went to see it knowing that it wasn't going to be another 'snatch' type movie and then slandered the hell out of it for not being so! Swept away is actually a decent movie with a lot of interesting and talented aspects to it.
There is no question about Guy selling out! Come on people, Yes Madonna is the lead actress - that's about as far as it goes. Madonna generally is a pretty crap actress but she proved that she has the goods when you watch 'Evita'. Madonna's character wasn't sugar coated into a likable character at all, if anything - the opposite: She looks every one of her 70 years, she's a detestable rich bitch prima donna and she does nothing to neither endear herself to audiences nor deter the pre-emptive attacks on her own personal character and acting abilities. She seems to revel in the opportunity to poke fun at herself and how her acting is portrayed and the entire elitist lifestyle. Her role in this movie is one that is subjected to slapping, pushing, verbal abuse and other indignities, plus Madonna herself endures many hours of working in water -which is well known to be a very trying and physically exhausting place to be conducting a movie! So Kudos to ol' Madge for throwing herself into a role which you'd never expect her to do.
The first thing that caught me with this movie is that it has a slight gritty cinematography to it - far from polished. There's a raw edgy essence in the visuals. The characters stand out in unflattering crystal clear lenses, and once the dialogue kicks in, it's even more unflattering to the characters. No one comes across as particularly likable (again, another gutsy element). I found the humour to be fantastic, it's very tongue in cheek and light hearted. Guy makes it clear from the start that this is not going to be a life changing cult movie of epic proportions. Rather it's something that has been done for fun, for a change, to explore the more enjoyable genre of an offbeat rom/com. You can 'feel' that the crew were having fun in the making of this, it reflects in the movie...
So where are we? It has gritty camera work, unlikable characters, a generally detested lead actress and not a whole lot of substance or style - yet it works! The plot is weak and predictable yet it's the details that make this entertaining. Even the most hardened Madonna hater will be secretly giggling at her lines which are reminiscent of old school skit humour. Once Swept away reaches its pivotal point of the enemies on the deserted island scenario is when the real acting and script is pressured into credibility. In my opinion it succeeds admirably with only one or two moments of cringing... These primarily being when Madonnas acting is solely trying to hold the movie up in a crucial emotion based scene and a game of charades (yes that scene was beyond awful).
Believe it or not though, they pull it off. There IS believable sexual chemistry, Madonna becomes endearing (somewhat) and it's a thoroughly flirty, fluffy and fun movie for the next 30-40 minutes or so. This is an amazing feat considering the first portion of the movie deliberately portrayed them to be unlikable and we all had doubts as to whether or not the acting would be able to achieve this. And before you know it, the very 'unhollywood' climactic finale arrives. These lead actors did this film justice! No soppy, sappy, gagging ending here, which was brilliant.
So forget the minor plot holes, forget the moments where the acting could have been better, forget the tired and predictable plot and forget that YOU WANTED another typical Guy Ritchie movie. Pay attention to the subtle humour, the interesting cinematography, the almost haunting musical score, the talent in not relying on special effects and fancy wardrobe crews, the way the entire crew took a movie that looked atrocious on paper and injected a breath of refreshing originality into it. And if all else fails just remember that Madonna gets slapped, kicked, slandered and basically humiliated in it :)
By the way, the special features on the DVD are surprisingly honest and candid - worth a watch.