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Are feelgood swimming comedies about men in pools wearing silly Speedos becoming a thing? Last year from France we had Le Grand Bain, or Sink or Swim, about a depressed middle-aged man joining a male synchronised swimming team, and in Britain we had Swimming With Men on the same theme. (Both were evidently inspired by the same quirky 2010 documentary about a real-life men’s team in Sweden.)
Now French film-maker Cédric le Gallo has co-created a movie inspired by his experiences with a gay men’s water polo team called Les Crevettes Pailletées (the Shiny Shrimps) and turned this into a boisterously stereotypical and puppyishly over-eager-to-please film about a homophobic swim champion called Matthias (Nicolas Gob) who causes media outcry with a bigoted remark and then must redeem himself by coaching the fictionalised Shiny Shrimps as they battle for a place at the Gay Olympics in Croatia. There are no prizes for guessing if his grumpy prejudices are finally dissolved by the Shiny Shrimps’ irresistibly life-affirming exuberance.
It’s a well-meaning film, but the humour doesn’t travel particularly well, and, even given that it’s intended to be not much more than a comedy, I have to say that all the Shiny Shrimps really are fantastically infantile except for one morose oldster, a veteran of the Act Up movement of yore, who objects to a trans woman being allowed to join the team. (Another sort of film might have given us a story about this character wanting to join a cisgender woman’s water polo team.)
One of the players is married with two little kids, named Gaspard and Noé – a gag for the arthouse fans, there. This moderate film treads water without getting anywhere.
• The Shiny Shrimps is released in the UK on 6 September.
Source: The Guardian
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