Swimming Upstream Review

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In 1950's Brisbane, Tony Fingleton sees his only chance to avoid becoming a docker in his abilities as a swimmer. Together with his disfuctional parents, he sets out to become an Olympic champion.


Swimming Upstream sees Aussie director Russell Mulcahy ditch the action silliness of Highlander and The Shadow for a low-key, fact-based family drama. Wise move as his latest project attracted Oz heavyweights Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis, who are predictably impressive in the roles of abusive, alcoholic dad and troubled-but-tough mum.

They're the parents helping/hindering teenager Tony Fingleton (Spencer), who became an unlikely champion Olympic swimmer in '50s Brisbane, recognising it as the only way to avoid becoming a sullen, pitiful dockworker like his pop. There are few surprises, but Mulcahy pulls off some neat tricks, using the black lines of the pool lanes to split the screen during race scenes, playing action and spectator reaction side by side.

Perhaps it's time to reassess the director of Talos The Mummy.