Monday, December 13, 2010

Against the Current

Despite the fact that I frequently post about new and popular releases, movies like this one are really the reason I created this blog in the first place.  It’s nice to have a forum to highlight the lesser known gems I come across in my endless pursuit of great filmmaking.  And I’d be shocked if anyone reading this has ever heard of this one.  (But please prove me wrong and comment if you have.)

I first saw this film at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2009, and it was among the best of my fest.  It’s a quiet, introspective, moving, and poignant film with some heavy subject matter.  And unfortunately that severely limits its audience.  As such, I heard nothing about it since, until it was quietly released on DVD a month ago.  And that’s a real shame.

Joseph Fiennes (‘Shakespeare in Love’ and TV’s ‘Flashforward’) plays a man who, for personal reasons, decides to swim the 150 mile length of the Hudson River, over the course of a few weeks.  Two friends (played by Justin Kirk and Elizabeth Reaser) accompany him on his journey, riding alongside via boat.  Along the way his true motivations become clear. 

This is a film about life, death, grief, and friendship.  It’s pretty low budget and relies on the strength of the script and the cast to keep it engaging, rather than depending on action sequences, special effects, or violence.  But it does have its share of adult language and sexual situations.

Truthfully, most people won’t like this film.  So if it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then you probably shouldn’t waste your time.  But these are the kind of movies I enjoy, so if you’re game to try something different, then give it a go.  And if you do see it and do enjoy it, and want to see a somewhat lighter film about similar subject matter, check out ‘On a Clear Day’.  I’d also like to recommend ‘The Way’, which I discussed in my Toronto Film Festival blog, but that’s currently unavailable.  I suspect it will similarly quietly show up on DVD in a year or more.

Grade:  A-

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