3 out of 5 stars
SPEEDO RACER Lindon, left, coaches Ayverdi on his form.
SPEEDO RACER Lindon, left, coaches Ayverdi on his form.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
Shooting for some of the ‘Slumdog’ audience, but in a more rational and socially concerned fashion, this sweet Loachian drama paints a tender cross-cultural relationship on a canvas of mild political outrage. Simon (Vincent Lindon, above) is a sad-sack swimming coach who gets a new lease of life when he decides to train a young Kurdish migrant, Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), to swim across the English Channel so he can be reunited with his girlfriend.

Phillipe Lioret’s film was a box-office smash in France, and with its undemanding blend of embittered (though sympathetic) characters, a crisp shooting style and an eloquent, triumph-of-the-little-guy plot, it’s easy to see why. But while it does take some surprising diversions in the latter stages, there is the sense that Lioret doesn’t truly understand the immigrant experience: Bilal and his travelling companions are painted as infantilised criminals, while the locals are either pantomime hatemongers or bleeding-heart soup kitchen attendants.

By: David Jenkins



Release details

Release date:
Friday November 6 2009
109 mins

Cast and crew

Philippe Lioret
Philippe Lioret
Vincent Lindon
Firat Ayverdi
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