The Swimmer

This summer, we took a lazy, meandering road trip for three weeks to the Midwest and back. Night after night we rolled into towns, perused our options and stayed in hotels.  Many times we searched out the ones with a pool so I could swim.  Shedding my anxieties of work and life, and reflecting on visits with friends and family, I swam the length of each different pool. Back and forth, the obvious metaphoric cleanse became a simple satisfying ritual.  I felt like I swam across the country in a way. 

Burt Lancaster came to my mind.  Starring in the 1968 movie, The Swimmer, Lancaster played Ned Merrill. His body is fit but his mind is troubled. (Um, mine is the reverse, in my biased estimation.) The film, written by John Cheever and Eleanor Perry and directed by Frank Perry, has a simple and unorthodox structure, slowly revealing relationships, conflicts and the character's flaws. I don't love every scene, especially in the last half, but I love the steady rhythm of the film, the masterful use of subtext to move the story forward - instead of plot - and without question, Lancaster delivers as Ned Merrill. It's a fleshy surreal expression of human corruption as authentic as I feel I've ever observed in life. Oh and p.s. watch for a great little bit part from Joan Rivers.

No comments: