Swimming Upstream (2003) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
35 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Rush and Davis give bold performances in this true-life account of Aussie swimming champ Tony Fingleton.
george.schmidt8 February 2005
SWIMMING UPSTREAM (2005) *** Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, Jesse Spencer, Tim Draxl, David Hoflin, Craig Horner, Brittany Byrnes, Deborah Kennedy, Mark Hembrow, Mitchell Dellevergin, Thomas Davidson, Kain O'Keefe, Robert Quinn, Keeara Byrnes. (Dir: Russell Mulcahy)

Rush and Davis give bold performances in this true-life account of Aussie swimming champ Tony Fingleton.

Athletic biographies and films about sports in general seem to keep audiences enthralled as they line up to see them, rooting for the underdog and living vicariously through their triumphs as well as viscerally feeling their emotional (and physical) scars they accumulate in the long and winding road to success.

In the latest true-life account the sport is swimming and the athlete is Australia's national champion Tony Fingleton circa the 1950s-early 1960s, beginning with his humble beginnings as the middle child of a family of five and clearly not his father's favorite as the story proceeds to illustrate just how blunt that fact is with some heartbreaking moments of just how difficult it can be to be a perfect athletic specimen, but an absolute zero in the eyes of a loved one.

Tony's blue-collar working class dad, Harold (a superb Rush in a continuing string of chameleon like turns of late), a man who houses many demons and unleashes his inner fury through bottles of beer , tries his best to provide for his sprawling tight family and although his focus on winning-is-the-only-thing-that-matters view in life has to face his failures every day (he gave up a promising attempt as a professional soccer star by marrying young, and regretting every moment thereafter) in spite of his loving family and long-suffering wife Dora (the ethereally haggard Davis equally top-notch in a semi-low-key performance). His main cause of bitterness is apparently his son Tony's good-natured, loving self that only may mirror the phantoms of what Harold may have been (or could have been) and his reflection is only refracted back with disappointment until one day the young boy and his sibling John announce they can swim very well much to his surprise. Harold sees this magical moment as his ticket by coaching his lads gruelingly to stardom and becomes obsessed in their times by carrying his ubiquitous stop-watch at all times and having the boys go at the crack of dawn every day until they are young men equally scrabbling to make names of themselves (and eventually to disembark their trappings for the real world).

Spencer gives a remarkably effective performance as the tortured Tony (as does Dellevergin as his younger version) attempting to shake off the waves of abuse and loathing from the only person he so desperately wants to make proud of and is ably supported by a more difficult turn by Draxl (and his younger counterpoint Davidson) as John. The two young brothers are thick and thin covering for each other when things get messy yet eventually a wedge is driven between the two by the conniving Harold who will stop at nothing to see his 'dream' the way it should be.

The acting by both Rush and Davis is truly impressive as each manages to avoid making either of their roles true monsters and victims by giving them shades of gray in character and just enough reality to their pre-conceived stereotypes – alcoholic loser and misbegotten abused wife.

Veteran director Mulcahy (HIGHLANDER) has a difficult task in keeping the film's pace relevant to the seemingly endless swim matches and his choice of pulsating music diminishes his clever wipes and split-screens to divvy up the emotional overload his characters are going through. Yet the screenplay by Anthony Fingleton - based on his biography with his younger sister Diane – keeps the storyline real in its brutality and shame.

What easily could have been a waterlogged THE GREAT SANTINI the film achieves the unexpected: sympathy for a loser and new-found respect for a winner.
26 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A real winner!
David-24024 September 2002
This true story of Australian swimmer Tony Fingleton is not your typical "inspirational" tale of rising above the odds to become a champion, it is rather a tale about the real meaning of success. Success is about realising yourself, not the deeds you do or the medals you win. For Tony this was a tough lesson to learn.

The film is brilliantly directed by Russell Mulcahy, who shows unusual restraint, without losing his dynamic and unique style. Some of his direction here reminded me of his work on "Queer As Folk", as he manages to stylise the action without sacrificing the emotional integrity of the screenplay (which was written by Fingleton himself). Although the film is set in the 1950s and 1960s, Mulcahy refuses to become a slave to the period, instead he utilises 21st century editing styles, including the truly thrilling use of split-screens for the race sequences, and a terrific electronic music score, to make this period tale utterly contemporary.

The performances are nothing short of spectacular. Jesse Spencer, who plays Tony, seems set for international stardom. With the face of an angel, and the body of a god, he can hardly fail to make an impression - but he can really act as well! He is ably supported by two of the greatest actors in the world today, and they're both Aussies - Judy Davis and Geoffrey Rush, who play Tony's parents. The story focuses on Tony's relationship with his father, a very strained and complex relationship. Rush's performance is probably his best screen work to date (yes, even better than "Shine"!), as he creates a multi-dimensional being out of what could have been a cliched villain. And Davis just keeps getting better and better as an actress. As the long-suffering mother, she completely avoids cliche, and invests the character with zest, warmth, love and anger. She is dynamite! Tim Draxl is also impressive as Tony's brother John - at once jealous and proud, and Mitchell Dellevergin is perfect as the young Tony. All the performances are excellent, although I could have done without the comic cameo by Dawn Fraser, which harms the emotional intensity of one very important scene.

Perhaps the film hammers its themes a little too relentlessly, but it's easy to forgive a film that has this much heart. Given the right distribution I think this film will go on to great international acclaim, and strong box-office. Another Aussie classic to treasure!
21 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Geoffrey Rush is awesome !!!!
yogagalCO5 January 2005
Saw this film at the Denver Film Festival and found it to be intense and moving. Tony Fingleton spoke after the film ended. Making this film was truly a labor of love and he was actually moved to tears as he spoke about his childhood. He said he no longer speaks to his brother-very sad. He said that the film was originally planned as a made for television program but the budget was too great as it is a period piece. Competitive swim buffs, Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis fans alike should appreciate it. The actors playing the brothers when they are older are hot too ! I hope this film is able to be distributed widely so it can be seen by lots of people-it is a perfect film for families with older children . Highly recommend this film
26 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A fine opening night film!
agentk21 July 2004
Just saw this film on its USA premiere at the Stony Brook Film Festival opening night. A packed house and an excellent Q+A session made this moving film a perfect choice to start the festival.

As previously stated, the casting was perfect with the distressed family members being portrayed in believable and engrossing ways. Both Rush and Davis deliver wonderful portrayals. According to the author, who was on hand for the opening, Geoffrey Rush did an eerily accurate job in his role as Tony Fingleton's father.

All in all, an excellent film that should be distributed more widely than it currently is.
18 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Emotionally powerful and inspiring; based on a true story
jv33326 December 2004
This film was the "Closing Selection" for the 2004 San Diego Film Festival. The story shows the emotional pain of growing up with an alcoholic and abusive father. And yet, through the violence and strife emerges the eventual best Olympic swimmer from Australia in his event. The movie was about the life story of Tony Fingleton, whom I was fortunate to meet in person after the film. What an outstanding individual as he fielded audience questions with complete honesty and panache.

His story is testament to the tenacity of the human spirit in the face of a troubled and abusive father. Yet despite it all, emerges a positive and intelligent force. There was still a drive to improve one's mind despite a relentlessly critical father in the protagonist's formative years. The emotional family confrontations are not for the squeamish; however, it is a tribute to human optimism and accomplishment. I wish it were revealed a bit more about Tony's drive for education early on, i.e., who inspired that aspect of his development? Geoffrey Rush's acting as the father is stark and striking. The images and messages of this film will stay with you for a very long time!
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Hard to like
zagorskis28 February 2003
This well acted true story drama is a difficult movie and wont be particularly popular. I gave it an 8 out of 10 although I've got to say I didn't like it so much as appreciate it. The test of a good drama for me is whether you talk about it and question aspects of it after its over. This certainly had me and my wife talking, mainly about the relationships issues that it generates (particularly those between parents and their kids). I won't be recommending this to every friend, but for those that I know that appreciate a movie that makes you think, it gets my vote of confidence. My final comment regards Tony Fingleton himself. If you are out there reading this Tony, all I can say is that I wish you and your family in New York every happiness and success. Nobody should have to experience the kind of torment brought upon you by your father.
19 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A great Australian story
vampiresan28 September 2002
I watched Swimming Upstream as part of the judging for Australia's Film Institute awards and was very impressed with it at that screening. The performances are superb, especially Judy Davis and Geoffery Rush. But the real power of the film lies in it's subtext about a father who managed to disregard his own son.

The implications of this, and the way it was so beautifully, visually and poignantly brought to the screen, is one of the true achievements of this film.

Special mention goes to Anthony Fingleton who wrote the screenplay (based on his autobiography) He and co-writer Diane Fingleton have managed to relate an extrordinary situation without trying to answer the greatest puzzle - how could this happen in a loving family.

A real Gem that will no doubt be overlooked by many. A shame.
13 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great acting
callapm6611 January 2004
This film has two fantastic leads....Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis. These two characters are developed well in an interesting script. Swimming is so much part of our culture and history. It's great to see a film that captures the drama of competition
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Deserves to be better known
tbscreenrider30 October 2003
Since all the reviews I read on this film so far are from Australia, I couldn`t resist to comment on it, if just for showing that it made the other side of the world :-). I bought the DVD because I already am a fan of Jesse Spencer (though I never had the chance to see his "Neighbour"-appearances) - I like him in "Stranded". So I bought the DVD of "Swimming upstream" and was really impressed by his acting-skills. The story lacks a little tempo at times, but the characters played by Jesse Spencer and Judy Davis are really coming to life very well. And the way I dislike Geoffrey Rush`s character is proof of his good job either. Contrary to a previous review I read, I liked the use of the editing machine during the swimming sequences just fine. The only thing that struck me was the music during those sequences, that just was dramatic all right, but way to modern for the time that movie played in. With a little more tempo this might have been a top-league drama, but it still deserves to be better known and I will certainly recommend it to friends of drama-movies.

I hope for Jesse Spencer to find more roles that bring out his talent and make him even better known worldwide. It`s not often that good looks and talent go together (Kevin Zegers is another fine actor that deserves to be better known...).

I still wonder, why Tony`s father disliked his own son that much...I wish no kid would have to live through something like that. Ever!
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Acting superb!
sjb_can16 June 2007
Jesse Spencer is wasted on TV. He is a phenomenal actor. I was dazzled by his performance. Judy Davis, is, as always, top drawer. Although I don't much like Geoffrey Rush, I can't complain about his acting. I probably don't like him because he almost always plays characters with few redeeming qualities. Anyway, although the story is hard to watch for people who grew up in alcoholic or abusive homes, it is realistic and well-done. The family dynamics are portrayed so profoundly and truly that the swimming competitions, although central to the story, don't dominate in a boring way. Jesse's character, Tony Fingleton, is trying to succeed at something in life, despite the constancy of his father's hateful abuse. Tony never gives up, even in the face of hurt and betrayal.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Bound for glory
jotix10014 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Swimming Upstream", a satisfying Australian movie, was shown on cable recently. Directed by Russell Mulcahy and based on a biography by Anthony Fingleton, the film has a lot to admire, in that even if it deals with sports, in this case swimming, but is basically a family drama.

Harold Fingleton, the brutish head of the family, is a longshoreman struggling to maintain his wife and five children in Brisbane, in the mid 1950s. Harold has a drinking problem. When he gets drunk, he takes it on his wife, or his children. Dora, the wife, gets her share of the abuse, mainly because she sees in her son Tony a kind soul who she wants to succeed. Dora, who attempted to take her own life, is rescued by the children. That in turn, makes Harold be meaner toward Tony, who in his mind might be showing signs of homosexuality. As it is, Harold was abused by his own mother's clients.

When Harold watches the boys at the local pool, he is amazed by the talent he sees in John, and in Tony. He embarks in a quest to make both boys successful champions, but he prefers John to be the one with all the honors; after all, he couldn't care less what happens to Tony. Ironically, Tony is the one that is successful. When having the option to choose between going to the Olympics, or taking a full scholarship at Harvard, Tony chooses the latter.

It's sad to see how Harold's own drinking affected the family. In spite of what one would have expected, all the children turned out good, especially Tony. Harold, who eventually sobered up, was never warm toward a son that really loved him and try to win all the contests he entered to gain his father's love.

Russell Mulcahy delivered a great film that juxtaposes the successes of the Fingletons with the miserable life at home. Geoffrey Rush got one of the best roles of his career. He does incredible work in portraying the tormented Harold and making the monster that he was, totally dominated by alcohol and hatred. Of course, he had been scarred for life at an early age, and took it on the innocent people that were most vulnerable, his family.

Judy Davis is also excellent as Dora. Although she doesn't have as much screen time as Mr. Rush, Ms. Davis is always an interesting actress to watch. Jesse Spencer is fine as Tony as a grown man and Tim Draxl also excels as John. Kain O'Keefe impressed us as the bully Harold Jr. at the beginning of the film.

An inspirational film made better by Russell Mulcahy.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Where does Championship Lie - in the Body or in the Head?
gradyharp2 June 2005
SWIMMING UPSTREAM is a brilliantly acted, deeply involving and ultimately uplifting film from Australia that deserves major audience exposure. Based on a true story of one of Australia's many championship athletes, this story is not merely another biopic (although it was autobiographically written by Anthony Fingleton, the subject of the film): this is a story about large families of poverty, about the tragedies that befall families husbanded by an alcoholic abusive father, and about the ultimate triumph of the individual soul rising out of such conditions.

Harold Fingleton (Geoffrey Rush) is a drunk, a blue collar worker who has sired five children by a strong but enabling wife Dora (Judy Davis), a man whose focus on sports finds a possible escape from his joblessness when he discovers that his two middle sons Tony (Jesse Spencer) and the younger John (Tim Draxl) are able swimmers. For reasons unclear Harold focuses on John and while he relentlessly coaches both of the boys at the town pool every day, he decides John is going to be the champion swimmer in Australia. Tony excels in the backstroke and eventually surpasses his beloved brother John's times and proceeds to win the honors Harold expected of John.

Throughout this tale of competition in swimming we are privy to the competition within the home. Harold, Jr (David Hoflin) is initially the bully yet gradually succumbs to his father's alcoholic lifestyle. Dora is beaten and abused yet is always there for her children, eking out a living and soothing the flare-up tantrums during Harold's drunken states. Tony and John cycle through periods of mutual adulation and the alternative fierce competition into which they are thrown by their father: their evolving bond is unforgettably touching. When Tony at last reaches the peak of his swimming potential, winning medals and applause form his countrymen, he still tries to grasp the love of a father whose is so consumed by his own demons that he is unable to acknowledge Tony's success. Tony's eventual choice of leaving Australia for either the Olympics or for a scholarship to Harvard in the USA provides some of the most touching moments between the various members of this long-suffering family.

The direction by Russell Mulcahy is keenly paced, making excellent use of flashbacks to the significant moments in the family's history, and electing to use the split screen technique to underline the tension of the swimming meets while focusing on the faces of the family. As Tony, Jesse Spencer is both wonderful to watch (he does his own swimming and he is a perfect physical specimen!) and reveals acting gifts that are usually those of more seasoned performers. Indeed, Rush, Davis and Draxl also give spellbinding performances that are born of nuance and understatement. In a family where there could be polarization of response from the audience, each of the actors is so fine that we are able to find the complete personas of these disparate people and find warmth and understanding for all of them.

One wonders why this film was not heralded in the theatrical release, as it is one of the finer movies to come out in years. Both Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis give outstanding, award deserving performances. The DVD includes all of the 'deleted scenes' and it is highly recommended to view these important inexplicably cut moments as they truly enhance the film. Very Highly Recommended! Grady Harp
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Searing Look at What Can Push An Athlete To Succeed
noralee8 February 2005
"Swimming Upstream" reveals an intense dysfunctional psycho drama behind a competitive sport. It is as moving about a macho male athletic culture, here focused on swimming, as "Friday Night Lights" was about football, particularly as dysfunctionally fueled by alcohol.

Geoffrey Rush gives a searing performance as an alcoholic patriarch who arbitrarily plays his sons against each other for his attention and approval.

Judy Davis, who usually masters powerful women, here is memorable as a buffeted mother drained by caring for five children, poverty and her occasionally violent husband.

Claustrophobic family dynamics are well-captured, particularly in showing how childhood experiences shape adults emotionally forever and what was once a refuge becomes torture.

When the sons reach adolescence the screen is filled by blue-eyed Jesse Spencer (he's in a crew-cut with rippling muscles in the pool so much that I didn't recognize him as the very clothed, longish haired doctor in TV's "House") and the young men in small bathing trunks playing his brothers, in heightened scenes of very physical sibling rivalry and closeness.

The visuals and production design well communicate the bloke culture of Brisbane in the 1950's and early 1960's, from the fading docks, to the pubs, to the locker rooms, to the union halls, that is brutally carried into the family.

The shocked smile on Spencer's face as "Tony Fingleton" discovers a wider culture through his swimming, heck with admiring women in it, is heart warming as I thought that if someone doesn't give that guy a hug already I'll reach through the movie screen and do it myself.

Russell Mulcahy's directing, however, frequently undercuts the power, with unnecessary narration and gimmicky camera moves during intense scenes.

The timetable as years go by is a bit confusing, especially as annual tournaments repeat.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Not So Good Old days
bill-89417 August 2004
I grew up in Sydney during the 1950's and although my childhood was good it wasn't the "good old days" people like to reminisce about.

This film captures the Australia of the 1950's perfectly.

An insular nation still coming to grips with who it was and where it was going.

As a child I saw men traumatised by the war or the depression; unable to express their feelings and as trapped in their roles as were the women.

Rush and Davies were superb as were the actors who played the children.

What a pity Tony had to escape to the USA. Has anything really changed?

A great little Australian Movie
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Purity_of_Essence8712 June 2005
That just about sums up this film. Beautiful. What it depicts may not be, but it's portrayal certainly is not even given justice in words. Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis were incredible. Had the film only featured the two of them, I think it still would've been amazing. Jesse Spencer also performed wonderfully, especially for such a young actor. Incredibly gifted, the three of them.

My warning is this: this is not even close to a comedy and I think it's a highly emotional movie. Somewhat of a roller-coaster in that aspect. But worth every minute of film. It has just been moved to one of my favourite movies, and is now one of my favourite Geoffrey Rush movies up there with Shine, Elizabeth, and Pirates.

Just see it.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another great Aussie movie
justinbrett16 April 2003
Despite the title and setting this is not a movie about swimming.

At times the movie can be dark and downright depressing, and the quality of the acting really brings you into the story. Brilliant performances by Judy Davis, Geoffrey Rush and Jesse Spencer (from Neighbours).

Set in Brisbane, this movie accurately captures life in Brisbane in the 50s. Unfortunately for us Brisbanites, there's not many obvious landmarks (except for the very obvious Sydney Harbour Bridge when they are in Sydney). However, the Fingleton home is a true Queenslander home and is very familiar.

Unfortunately, this movie did not do very well in Australia, though it is good to see that it will be released in New Zealand next month. Hopefuly it will also be released in the UK.

It is very probable that in 6 months time the DVD release of this might do a little better than the cinema release in Australia. That is of course if they make a DVD, which I guess cannot be guaranteed, given the lack of interest thus far.

Although I'm not usually a fan of Dramas, I try to see most Australian movies and this one is up there with the best of them.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I Loved It!!
katdawg6201 April 2007
In general, I usually hate movies that are based on a true story because they always are so...boring. But this movie was really inspiring and amazing I just...I love it! I thought all the actors did a splendid job. Rush is always good, and Jesse Spencer was awesome in this movie! I was really impressed with his performance. This movie is definitely a film that you don't forget about, and it's like it stays on your mind for the rest of the day because it was that good. I think it's impossible not to like this movie, but that's just my opinion. And I know people hardly comment on this, but the music was really good, too. Yeah, I pay attention to the music...I don't know who did the score. I'll check that in a bit. But whoever they are they did a fantastic job. So yeah. This is one of my favorite films now. And let me tell you, it's hard for a movie to become one of my favorites. So, to this movie...congrats!!! I loved it. :-)
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent!!! WOW.
imdbmovieguy16 July 2005
I wasn't expecting this movie to be this good, although I hoped that it would be. Rarely do I walk away from a movie and say, "A+" but this is one movie where I did.

I'm sure that some viewers will complain that this movie has a down tone to much of it. Of course, much of the movie centers on the harsh reality of domestic violence & how this affects a family & in particular, a son who didn't have the true support of his father. But, the lasting message is one of victory over circumstances. The main character's mother once said to her son, "Are you as strong as I think you are? In the head." She got it right. He didn't need to be strong physically. But, he had to have the inner strength to overcome all that he faced by having a selfish and sometimes cruel father.

Some of my favorite lines in this movie...

"It's funny how the stumbling blocks of life can help make us better people. I never had the support of my father. But, in the end that's what gave me the strength to seek something more than I could have ever imagined." "You were always a fighter." "Only you can make something of yourself. Not your father, not me." "Are you as strong as I think you are? In the head." "You are my hero." (Said to his mother)
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
spawn of cranky dad
ptb-814 April 2005
What should be a riveting and poignant family in crisis drama is ruined by the performances of the two most famous lead actors: Geoffrey Rush gnawing away and shouting his lines, and Judy Davis in half despair/screwed up face mode....all the fault of TV commercial schlock B pic director Russell Mulcahy. The performances of the kids are excellent and the set design, art direction and period detail, all perfectly photographed, have survived the heavy handed treatment...it is the TV level performances for the parent roles that become more than tiresome. Not to detract from what must have been a tough childhood, the story of this swimming family, the Fingleton's, is no doubt wrought in slapping and soaked in alcohol. Perhaps lesser known but equally talented leads would have been more satisfying and believable than the kitchen sink pantomime from Rush and Davis. I agree they are great actors but they are not in this film. The film was not a success and word of mouth was poor. Tim Draxl, Oz boy cabaret singer by night is one of the better performers in the pool in this one. The lame 80s lifesaver race pic COOLANGATTA GOLD covered the same territory, pestering brute dad playing favorites'n'all. Blame Mulcahey and his HIGHLANDER- RAZORBACK past for Swimming Upstream drying up.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The River of Life
jobeblanc18 June 2004
Excellent representation of a true story about a family in distress, driven by the members' needs to claw to their own separate peaces.

Casting is excellent. Geoffrey Rush continues to top his remarkable career peformances. His work here is completely engrosing. Watching him in this film completely voids your mind and leaves you with nothing but a brilliant piece of performance art. No distractions.

The rest of the cast are great too. Judy Davis is as credible as Rush, her character's personality comes right off the screen. The various age groups of child actors playing the brood of 5 kids are well cast, masterfully directed, and totally comfortable in their roles. Direction is remarkable throughout. One minor confusion is caused by the sons who excepting Tony, are by times confusing to identify. This is perhaps testimony to the fine casting effort for family resemblance, but it helps the viewer to follow the story if you get the names down when they are youngest, and can place them each time they age. This is critical because one of the driving forces to this story are the collective relationships between father and each particular son.

This movie is better than you could ever expect. While already world-accomplished, Aussie film is now consistently proving that it is amongst the best of the best - in the world.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Underrated (on imdb) but worth watching
webjunk1 March 2003
I saw this during a bit of a down time in the movie making schedule, and I wasn't disappointed. This movie tries to show the struggle of the middle child growing up in a family of 5. I wont bore you with the plot except I will throw in a few key words about competing, respect, love, swimming oh and dad/father.

Script, acting, casting, music, set, filming were all very well done. Although they did succeed in making the actual swimming scenes interesting, I have a feeling that the producers wanted to get value for money out of their editing software and applied every single technique and split screen effect it offered to their film. Think dad, his home movies, and the latest IMAC digital editing package...

I left the cinema feeling more complete than Charlotte Grey (chick who does some stuff during the war that was hard work) but less that the likes of Power of One (guy who does great stuff and overcomes the odds).

Considering the US rubbish that is Swim Fan, this is Australian flick is far superior in the pool.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A fine Australian film
mrp-54 December 2002
2002 seems to be a good year in Australian cinema, both in quantity and quality of films. This film fits in the latter category and has a superb performance from Geoffrey Rush.

While this is a period piece, set in the late 50's and early 60's, there is no need to be familiar with this period and it should translate well to other countries as while it is an Australian story it could have happened anywhere.

While the split screen initially seemed unnecessary I think in the end it added to the race scenes.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a world class Australian film
vaynor29 December 2005
In the 1980's there was a long series of Australian films shown on British television - BBC2. After a long diet of Hollywood rubbish it was simply marvellous to see one excellent film after another. The films were mainly funded by public money and i suspect that there are few other countries were the public funding of a film industry has produced such a rich output of world standard. Certainly not in the UK where our native film industry is almost constantly swamped by Hollywood formula movies that dumb down the intelligence of audiences worldwide. in the UK just an occasional Brit's funded classic emerges from the mire. Swimming Upstream is a worthy successor to the Australian films of that early period and i commend it for your viewing without exception.

It is the finest performance amongst many for Judy Davis. Geoffrey Rush is utterly convincing as the hard drinking hard thinking Australian father of two sons both with swimming ability. It is an open indictment of the traditional hard edged primeval machismo of Australian male society yet not without understanding and sympathy of that dog breeds dog condition. male brutality breeding male brutality goes hand in hand with indications of the impact of job insecurity and the poverty of families that result from such circumstances.

This movie is an inspirational beacon of how sport and in this case swimming in particular can provide a release from such pressures. For some perhaps even a road to freedom and a sense of personal worth thus helping to breech the cycle of brutality associated with traditional male behaviour in Australia. Australia is still a world class producer of thinking mans cinema.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent quality dramatisation of true events
aaronnz20 February 2005
One of the best Aussie films I have seen in years. At first I thought, oh god here we go another badly acted film but give it five minutes and it starts to reveal an overlapping tapestry of characters with diverse personality's, which reflects the often too true reality of the traditional Aussie or New Zealand 1950's/1960's family. The traditionally emotional un-involved alcoholic father,this movie took me back to my own childhood and I am sure many Aussies and New Zealanders can relate. Not only does this film reflect the life of an otherwise ordinary family, who fought against extraordinary overwhelming odds.

This film shows that dreams can become reality even for those of us needing to overcome extremely difficult situations. And that all of us are given opportunity's to grab and go with.

Great film well acted after the first five minute lol. And with a good cast. A film, which should gain much more recognition that what it maybe has excellent 10/10
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Only the strongest can swim against the current
pippa_smith13 February 2005
Swimming Upstream is not a typical macho sporting flick - you will be forced to think.

The movie will effect all your senses and may expose skeletons from the cupboard, normally remained locked away for years and years.

The capturing of the intense Queensland light, searing heat and crystal clear water is set against the contrast of the struggle of the family members.

Disregard the sport and the period the film portrays and relate the same story to your own or other's family relationships - the story is all too close to home.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed