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Swimfan (2002)

Directed by John Polson Written by Charles F. Bohl & Phillip Schneider

Something that constantly bothered me about this film was seeing others state how if you’ve seen Fatal Attraction, then was no need to see this film. Or rather, it was simply a teenage version of the 1987 classic. Which alright, is an overall theme but have we really forgotten other films like Obsessed, Disclosure or The Hand that Rocks the Cradle? Those just being some of the better obsession movies (yeah, I didn’t mind getting to see Beyonce kick some Larter ass). Yet I constantly saw this movie compared to the former. Can we all agree before continuing on that if you compare anything to greatness then more than likely you should as well expect to be disappointed?

This being a teen movie, with Seniors thankfully, it may seem to have a familiar plot with motives in a similar manner as typically done in the past. But in no way should take from it being enjoyable for what it turned out. The film opens up to the credits with typical thriller music setting the tone and we see brief images of Madison (Erika Christensen) playing cello. Intertwined with moments shared between Ben (Jesse Bradford) and girlfriend Amy (Shiri Appleby). We catch glimpses of a typical day for him involving a quick breakfast and good ol’ conversation with mom before heading off to school. Informed by his Coach Simkins (Dan Hedaya) that in the next week scouts from Stanford University would be attending a meet with the advice to live in the water so as to be ready to impress.

Ben’s perceived as the “cool, popular” jock having great friends, a bright future ahead of himself and the love of a girl that he would never take for granted. That is until new student Madison enters the school grounds setting eyes on him pretty quickly and asking for assistance in opening her locker, exchanging in harmless playful behavior. On top of his already praised merits Ben also volunteers at a hospital for the elderly. The only problem currently being that Amy would be attending school in Rhode Island next year parting them 3,000 miles if accepted into Stanford. Talk about your first world problems.

Catching the attention of Ben’s friend Josh, (Clayne Crawford) he begins discussing his interest in the new girl and how she was staying with her cousin Christopher Dante (James DeBello). A regular punching bag for Josh and several others at their school. While driving back home Ben believes to see Madison walking down the street, becoming distracted and almost running right into the real Madison. Apologizing profusely he insist on driving her home and there seems an already set tension between the two. Somehow always finding her to be near him in some aspect or another. Or could it simply be a well orchestrated plan on Madison’s part? He later returns her music book which was left coincidentally in his truck and she’s able to sway lunch and conversation out of him. The two sharing intimate details on his former life involving drugs and how getting caught turned out to be the best thing as it introduced swimming. The escape he had been looking for. Connecting on a same level sharing that learning to play music was able to take her to a place where her pain vanished. Ben seeing her in a new light that only further peaked his interest.

He does inform her he has a girlfriend; that she was as well part of the reason for turning his life around. While informed that Madison had someone waiting for her back in New York but affirming her interest in Ben regardless. Neither ready to say goodnight, Ben takes her to watch him swim and is surprised to find Madison entering the pool in nothing more than her bra and panties. Claiming to not know how to swim but asked if he wouldn’t mind teaching her. Seriously? Can’t pretend to be surprised in what happens next as they embrace in their moment of passion as she states “It’s ok, I want you too.” Maintaining it would be their little secret as well as asking to be told he loved her (the quote used as the title). Taking her home where they share a slither of awkward conversation and play it off to just being in the moment. **Quick break: Fellas, fellas; can you honestly tell me that a red flag or something wouldn’t cause for concern after just meeting a girl and her wanting you to tell her you love her? I know we live in a society where it seems all too easy to find someone who will willingly give their body to a stranger. How can you expect the audience to be on your side when you know the possible results that may come from your actions**

Filled with an overabundance of paranoia and fear, the events of the past night take its toll on Ben’s swimming as he unwinds after a long day to attend a party. His girlfriend wanting to introduce him to a new friend she had made…Madison. Acting as though it is their first encounter Amy briefly leaves to move Ben’s truck as Madison ask if he was able to retrieve the panties she left in his car. Barely catching Amy before she reached the truck it seemed anxiety had taken over Ben as his new friend whose initial account of keeping things at bay had changed. Well, who could have foreseen that? 

An attempt at avoiding the situation completely makes things worse as Ben comes home one day to find Madison chatting with his mother and stating how nice it was to finally meet her. Claiming for her recent behavior now being a bit too strong, a shift occurs in Madison’s attitude when hearing of the mistake that occurred between them. Making him know she wouldn’t be ignored she begins dating Josh as a means to catch Ben’s attention. Which backfires as she approaches him in the locker room asking exactly what was going on with them. A dose of reality hitting hard and not liking what she hears, reminding him of saying he loved her as he walks off unaware of the manipulative true colors that are about to be seen.

Interfering with a patient at the hospital Ben works at, pills are switched, pinning Ben to the scene of the crime. Later finding Madison practicing and taking her by the throat stating to know what she was doing and that she had better back off. An attempt to inform Amy of his wrongful choice takes yet another turn when it seems Madison beat him to the punch. Finding a  heartbroken now ex-girlfriend with the only explanation of “sorry” as though that would suffice. Hitting a low point with the final blow coming when Madison somehow interferes with his drug test disqualifying him from any chances of entering Stanford. Being rejected twice is too much for Madison as a death occurs and arrows once again point to Ben whose told not to leave town. Finally deciding to do something about the manner he breaks into her room to find a volunteer outfit for the same nursing hospital he worked at. As well a prescription bottle and questionable box containing several items of/about Ben.

Though a wreck involving Amy shows the deranged Madison torn between her twisted reality and that of which she intends on finishing. Fighting fire with fire it seems Ben has began to play back getting a confession on tape with the help of a few friends believing the nightmare to finally be over. Although we always forget to give credit to those who lack sense and are great at the art of manipulation. With a final showdown at the pool as a distraught Madison pleads to Ben to assert the love she believed he held for her. Proceeding to throw Amy into the pool when not getting the answer expected.

Final Thoughts: The film is not scary in the least however does not play itself to be expected as such either. It does thrill as promised, purposely setting the overall tones of the movie in a blue tint to go with the theme. Typically straying from this kind of role I thought Christensen pulled it off rather nicely and wouldn’t mind seeing her in a couple more roles that were not as safe. Appleby is probably most known for Roswell though nothing too special as far as performance wise goes. Her character barely understands what was going on until the final moments in the film. Just not a huge fan of her but did fine considering the role she was playing. Leaving Jesse Bradford who I had been a fan of, just no swimfan ha…ha, give that one to me. Hackers, Bring it on and most recently I Hope they Serve Beer in Hell being a couple of the other more humorous roles I’ve enjoyed him in.

Feeling no real sympathy for his character since he shouldn’t have said he loved a complete psychopathic and vulnerable stranger. But hey how would he have ever guessed that? Amy was safe and consistent and he couldn’t help the new, seemingly different girl easing her way into his life. While technically being able to make the argument that Madison wasn’t in fact in the wrong since she was only playing off of Ben’s actions. It was rather clear that her strong notions were perhaps hints at being hurt one to many times prior and being so damaged that the result was the unfortunate chain of events. The ending was weak and rather abrupt with the “happy ending” being simply that they lived to see another day.