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Big River Man

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Time Out Says

4 out of 5 stars
If Werner Herzog had made ‘Borat’, the results might have been something like this documentary about the unusual athletic overachiever Martin Strel. Imagine a man who has swum the length of the Danube, Mississippi and Yangtze rivers and you’re unlikely to picture Strel, an overweight, fiftysomething Slovenian with penchants for horseburgers, drunk-driving and, when occasion demands, wiring his head up to batteries. But here he is, preparing to swim the Amazon, aided by his son Borut and American amateur navigator Matthew Mohlke.

As the 70 days of the attempt unfold, Strel emerges as less exotic curio or eco-campaigner (despite the film’s attempts to frame him as such) than genuinely Herzogian obsessive, compelled to seek both unity with and mastery over nature. The film never truly gets a handle on the relationship between Strel and his long-suffering son, who delivers the pleasingly bathetic narration, but that dynamic is of less interest than the monomaniacal yet inspirational behaviour of Strel, a man indifferent to his own health and rejected by Amazonian locals as a demonic ‘pishtaco’.
Written by Ben Walters

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 4 September 2009
  • Duration:100 mins

Cast and Crew

  • Director:John Maringouin
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