Le Grand Bain (France)
Show times: 6:30 & 8:40 pm
Director: Gilles Lellouche
Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Philippe Katerine, Benoit Poelevoorde
Runtime: 122 minutes
Language: French with English Subtitles
Globes de Cristal Awards: Best Film, Best Actor(s) Nominations: Philippe Katerine, Benoit Poelevoorde; Prix Louis Delluc Award Nomination: Best Film.
“A surefooted crowdpleaser with enough warmth and the committed talents of a stellar ensemble cast to fend off any sense of predictability.”—Allan Hunter, Screen International
French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche delivers Le Grand Bain (aka Sink or Swim) an amiable comedy drama, set in the world of all-male synchronized swimming. With plenty of heart, the top-tier cast lends the witty story some welcome sparkle.
Le Grand Bain features Mathieu Amalric as the depressed, unemployed new recruit; Guillaume Canet as an uptight factory manager; Jonathan Zaccaï as the dim but lovable one; Benoît Poelvoorde as the bordering-on-bankrupt salesman; and Jean-Hugues Anglade as an aging wannabe rock-star, desperate to impress his daughter.
With more than a passing resemblance to The Full Monty, each character airs their problems as the team bond in swimming pool, sauna and bars—training, talking and learning to redefine their masculinity, let go, live a little and love again.
Whilst the focus is firmly on the men, there are a couple of strong female characters, most notably Virginie Efira and Leïla Bekhti as the swim team trainers, and Marina Fois as Bertrand’s wife.
Thanks to its Gallic male-bonding charms, Le Grand Bain remains afloat thanks to a cracking cast, solid direction and cinematography, and lightly comedic touch. Once the gang hits Norway for the synchronized swimming championships and the uplifting finale, the film nicely builds to its hilarious crowd-pleasing climax.