(The Swimsuit Issue)
Tribeca films and New Video release a Swedish film written by Jane Magnusson and Ochmåns Herngren, and directed by Måns Herngren. The film stars Jonas Inde, Andreas Rothlin-Svensson, Paula McManus, and Amanda Davin among others.
The Swimsuit Issue was shot in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and is presented as such in a standard definition DVD, enhanced for 16x9 displays, and has a run time of approximately 100 minutes. Sound is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo, in Swedish (mostly) with English subtitles hard coded into the video. Note, for people with adjustable cropping screens, the subtitles extend below the active picture area. On inserting the disc into the player, there is an anti-copy warning, a New Video slate, a Tribeca Films slate, and a standard disclaimer. This is followed by a trailer presenting ‘the Art of Pitching a Story’ from ‘the makers of Tribeca Films.’ This is then followed by three trailers: Road, Movie, from India, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, from the UK, and then a documentary narrated by Tilda Swinton, Climate of Change. The last three trailers are skippable. The main menu presents a choice of the film (and starts immediately,) or the special features (detailed later.)
The package is a standard DVD case with a cardboard slip-cover. The feature is unrated by the MPAA, but might merit a mild PG for thematic content. Suggested retail for this disc is $24.95, and is scheduled to be released in North America on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.
The Feature — ••••
Start with a group of middle-aged Swedes, overindulging in alcohol shortly before the wedding of one of their company. Add into the mix a swimming pool, a synchronized swim-team’s uniforms, and a video camera. The video of the improvised ‘water ballet’ turns into a comic hit, which sets Frederik (Inde) on the path of trying to forge himself and his compatriots into Sweden’s only male synchronized swimming team, with the goal of competing in the World Cup later that year. Salvation comes in a reforged relationship with his estranged daughter, Sara (Davin,) who is a competitive synchronized swimmer. Stir in the strange relational dynamics between Sara’s mother (McManus,) Sara, and Frederik, and then, of course, the close proximity between heterosexual men imposed by the swimming practices themselves. Blend well. Allow the naturally comic situations rise, particularly given most people’s attitudes to synchronized swimming, and moderate with a healthy dose of the dreaded reality.
Synchronized swimming becomes the vehicle for the real stories to evolve and present upon; the real stories of love, relationships and friendship. Of finding and reaching for one’s goals. And doing what it takes to get ‘there’ — where-ever there happens to be. But it is not just to our main character, Frederik, that all of this happens to. Valuable lessons are learned by several other members of the cast. Perhaps the most important one is learned by Sara, about how a person’s perspective shapes reality.
For a comedy, it is more a ‘straight man,’ allowing the audience to find the humor arising from the situations, which, I imagine, is a lot harder to make — and make work. And, for the most part, this film succeeds. There are a few places that seem to drag a bit, but they are just as necessary as the rest of the film.
Look past the cover notes, “inspired by... Full Monty and Calendar Girls...,” and see the depth behind this film. A quiet, quirky charmer. With perhaps the best insight of all in the final frames, coming from the senior judge.
The Picture — •••
Overall, the 2.35:1 image consistently feels flat, with slightly dull seeming colors, and a muddy tonal range. This contrasts with the color-grading in the special features, with higher contrast and brighter colors. In comparison, the ‘dullness’ of the feature seems generally more appropriate.
On the other hand, the transfer is soft. And then a mild but consistent edge-enhancement was applied across the entire feature. While it is generally visible, particularly around the captions and the frame-edges, it is not too bad on a large projection.
The Sound — •••
The DVD packaging includes a huge collection of icons and glyphs from just about every company involved at any stage of the production [sixteen; count ’em!] and so suggests that in addition to the Dolby Digital Stereo, that there is a DTS track. While this was also in the credits, the DVD itself only has a Swedish Dolby Digital Stereo track, and the press material that came with only indicates the one track.
The stereo sound is clean and clear, even when the characters are mumbling a few English or German words amongst the rest of the Swedish track. The stereo track is not a particularly wide track, and there is little, if any, presence of a phase encoded surround channel.
There are two short subjects. One, My Tribeca Story is a brief chat Måns Herngren (director) about the film, the nature of comedy, and synchronized swimming. In English, about two and a half minutes. The other is An Interview with The Swimsuit Issue Team, with Måns Herngren (director,) Jane Magnusson (screenwriter and syncro-coach,) and Jonas Inde (Frederik), talking about the film, the story, and the swimming. About three minutes.
In The End — •••
Don’t get this for a ‘synchronized swimming guys’ joke film. Yes, it is a film like that, but it is a whole lot more, and is worth a whole lot more than that one joke.
Technically, it could be better, but the image is okay on a big screen. This is definitely a film where the story is king. And quite enjoyable.
[edit for twisty grammer]