Swimfan

Swimfan (  )

A one-night stand in a swimming pool with the mysterious new, blonde student leads to all the usual complications – deceit, lies, murder – when swimming champ Ben Cronin gives into flattery and seduction from an obsessed fan.

Pretty soon Madison (Erika Christensen) is turning up at parties, at his home (“Surprise!”) and sending e-mails hot enough to melt the innards of his computer. This is, quite clearly, a girl who can’t say no…

A 21st century youth orientated rip-off of Fatal Attraction crossed with Misery, Swimfan proudly wears its heart on its sleeve from the outset, presenting Ben (Jesse Bradford) and his raven-tressed girlfriend Amy (Shiri Appleby) as the perfect couple – he a sports star, she a bookish academic with beauty to match her brains.

Madison is the cuckoo in the nest: enigmatic, peculiar, with a spooky stare, a waspish tongue and enough vitriol to power Bitch City for a month. She’s obviously a bad ‘un but Ben, guided by his growing interest and bulging swimming trunks, cannot resist this bad, bad girl.

Blokes everywhere – and I use the term deliberately – will find something to feel uneasy about in this overheated casserole of sex, fear, loathing and murder. After all, how many fellas have felt the urge to indulge in a little of the old extra-curricular only to panic like an Everton fan at Anfield when they realise that not only is their ‘quickie’ talking about them, they just won’t shut up?

Like Michael Douglas’ hapless husband in Fatal Attraction, Ben comes to realise that his watery midnight snack has turned into a relationship-busting emetic. With a script that is both over-egged and overwrought he can do little to salvage anything akin to seriousness, walking around with a dazed ‘I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me’ look on his face while desperately attempting to win back his lost love.

Christensen (Michael Douglas’s druggie daughter in Traffic), looking alarmingly like a podgy Reese Witherspoon, suffers the indignities of being the worst type of cinematic stereotype: the mad psycho bitch from Hell.

Every time she appears on screen – a face in the darkness, or via the 81 e-mails sent to Ben’s computer – you want to laugh. It’s so leaden it hurts – like being beaten over the head with a blunt movie. The sad fact is that it’s not meant to be funny.

Things take a turn for the ridiculous when bodies start floating to the surface of the pool. Ben’s really in hot water now – except, of course, that we know he’s not a baseball-bat wielding fruitcake and, with such a nice girlfriend, everything’s going to turn out right eventually no matter how ludicrous the movie becomes.

Leaving out bunny-boiling (a Glenn Close speciality) Swimfan is a fairly straight copy of Fatal Attraction but possesses little of the shrillness of the previous film. Leave out Close’s bravura performance, replacing it with limp histrionics, and this remains merely a tired exercise in finger wagging in which the ‘Hell hath no fury…’ scenario is used ‘til it’s worn out.

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