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Floating (1997)

Written and Directed by William Roth

  Most people know Norman Reedus for his role of Boondock Bad Ass Murphy with brother Connor from cult favorite, The Boondock Saints. Or more recently a different kind of spotlight for his growing notoriety as Zombie killing Bad Ass Daryl Dixon, soon to be reunited with brother Merle in The Walking Dead. Though us reel Reedus fans know there’s a softer side to this seemingly silent enforcer that may surprise you. A side that’s not afraid to let his inner freak flag fly and emotions we wouldn’t ordinarily see come forth while watching him trample over zombies or executing mafioso’s.

  Floating is a story of Van, (Reedus) who seems like a normal enough young man struggling with the inner turmoil of trying to be an adult. But stuck in his small town ways with nothing to look forward to. His friends return for the summer and ask to use his empty house for “storage.” A bit of back-story being that after his father was in a car accident that his mother couldn’t handle it. She left and took all their money, leaving Van alone to care for a man who was too busy using his son for help to bother asking if he had been okay through everything. He maintains a temper that’s fueled by yuppies as they try to buy some bud off his friends; cameo by Casey Affleck. His girlfriend Julie (Sybil Temtchine) starts giving him the cold shoulder, pressuring him about school and when he would attend. Later at a party thrown by her, he finds her and demands to know what was going on and why all of a sudden he was getting the run around, not getting much of a response.

  Swimming seemed to be the only thing that gave Van any comfort and is soon introduced to the people who bought the house he used to live in. Doug (Chad Lowe) tries to say hello but doesn’t get much attention at first, pressing on in the days to follow. While Van hangs out with his friends they see Doug swimming in the lake and call him over, inviting him to smoke with them. Making clear distinctions that he didn’t belong to this group but desperately tried to fit in. It seems that Doug was also a swimmer, for the University in fact and that his father was the coach. They retreat back to his place and while watching TV Van’s friend attempt to take back the stolen things left in the basement of that house. Of which Doug doesn’t seem to mind, clearly knowing why he was talked to and dismisses Van with a bit of disgust at just being used. The one thing connecting the two most being not feeling as though they could connect with anyone, most importantly their own father’s. Told from his father to stop worrying and “If it isn’t going to happen, you just face it,” Van can rarely even speak without it starting an argument in his house. He later goes off with Doug on his boat and they share their first real moment when he pretends to have caught a fish and is “thrown” out of the boat. Racing to the dock to put their heads back and take in the sun, something ever so innocent but intriguing about their relationship.

  Fighting with his father only worsens as Van spends more time with Doug and his family, staying for dinners, spending the night. Pestered about mowing the lawn, which was majority dirt, the guys head off and spot a couple of girls sunbathing. Trying to see who would be the bigger man to go talk to them first, Doug waste no time and stars heading down where he receives one of the girls number. They all meet up later that night and eventually share some conversation with the girls. When Doug awkwardly starts kissing the girl, Van jumps in naked and Doug soon following after. Nice view. Spending the night at his house and soon after going upstairs to sleep. It’s clear that with Van in his life, things are received in a more optimistic manner. Going as far as to attend a burglary, not actual taking anything but going along for the ride and laughing/knocking off with his new best friend. A final night of staying over, Van finds a male’s erotic magazine under his mattress of which embarrasses Doug greatly. Their time apart from one another not lasting long as he soon confides that even though his parent’s knew, his father treated it as some disease he couldn’t get rid of. Mentioning the idea of just taking off and being together. Who cared if they didn’t have any money, he just wanted to be with Van, the only person who seemed to accept him for who he was.

  Who could ask for more at this point? What could possibly go wrong after him accepting his proposal? His father offering a potential swimming scholarship of which momentarily perks Van’s interest, perhaps? Discussing the possibility of staying and being on the swim team together. Getting an apartment with one another and things being okay. That being far from what Doug wanted with his behavior soon changing when attending yet another breaking and entering. He soon drifts off when the alarm can be heard from inside the house; the other three moving with such panic as he calmly rides along with Van to the lake. Dragged out and told to swim out and hide, Doug cannot help but simply give up, unsure if his life could turn around. Falling to the bottom of the lake with Van desperately trying to keep him at the surface. Unsuccessful in the end we witness father and son connect through their loss and embrace in each other in their time of need.

  Keep in mind this was in the very beginning of Norman’s career yet when you see him collapse into his father’s arms and let every emotion out at that moment, your heart goes out to him a little. A lot if you’re a Fangirl. Not exactly something you’d imagine a MacManus brother doing huh? In my own opinion, Reedus excels when he’s being himself. He’s a good guy and he’s inventive and not afraid to let go when behind the camera. Rarely complemented for his Indy flicks. Chad Lowe was superb in this role and maintained a complete professionalism throughout the entirety of it that made you feel the harbored feelings between the two. When their eyes locked on each other, they were able to make you feel hopeful that they could be together in the end by some means. This is of course trusting that no one mentions the tiny and obvious fact that they were male. Happiness is a rarity that few are able to obtain and hold onto in life. Might as well grab it when you can. Perfect is what you make it I suppose. A great watch either way, if your one of the artard’s who mind’s the content than need not apply. Otherwise a nice telling of age story about a young man whose had everything taken away from him in his most needed time.