Updated: Jul 29, 2020
Three teenage girls break into a shut down pool. When uninvited guests show up, their friendship is tested and one of them is left behind.
Director Victoria Rivera does a fantastic job of using intimacy as a source of tension. Rivera’s style uses a relatively small amount of wide shots, opting instead to stay tight on its central characters, particularly Carson (Adriana Santos). From the outset we are prepared for a bomb to go off between Carson, best friend Becca (Chloe Roe) and interloper Julie (Adea Lennox), as the latter’s arrival upends Carson and Becca’s dynamic.
Rivera keeps our perspective right in the middle of this unstable friendship triangle, introducing not only Carson’s discomfort particularly with Julie’s disruptive influence, but a threat that reintroduces itself as a catalyst later. The shallow depth of focus is used to good effect, first as we meet Carson and Becca, isolating them from the outside world and thus binding them to each other and later as we struggle to keep track of all three girls, Becca and Julie often just out of focus, while Carson’s many close ups are framed and focused perfectly, adding to the sense of isolation from her friends.
Co-writers Rivera and Neda Jebelli expertly shroud the story structure in character, helping them to lead you down one path to then subvert your expectations with a moral dilemma that flips the dynamic of the story on its head. The three central characters are played with a touching mixture of naivety, quite anger and vulnerability. Santos in particular does a fantastic job of communicating her conflict without having to articulate it in dialogue. All three young actors play their roles with a surprising amount of authenticity and with just the right amount of chemistry, totally selling you on their relationships to each other.
The degree to which their dynamic carries the movie is highlighted by the lack of a musical score. The scenario itself does all of the talking and the three actors certainly do the heavy lifting. Rivera’s eye ensures that Carson’s waning patience translates to our growing unease. As a result, we are treated to a drama that refuses to release its grip on our intrigue or our anticipation.
Night Swim is a moral test, held up by three very genuine and emotionally faithful performances and delivers on some incredibly penetrating drama.
Check out our podcast review below:
Studio: Victoria Rivera | Year: 2019 | Genre: Drama | Duration: 12 Mins | Suitability: Mature
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