Making the Grades
The teen movie genre attempts to keep its head above water in Swimfan, an adolescent thriller starring Jesse Bradford as Ben, a competitive swimmer. Having put his juvenile delinquent past behind him, the muscular high school senior spends most of his time in the pool or with the love of his life, nice-girl Amy (Shiri Appleby).
Then she shows up. A likely winner of the Miss Pouty Lips nationals, Madison (Erika Christensen) is the new girl in school. Providing Ben with the "can't-open-my-locker" line, the boy draws on his criminal skills and handily pops her hasp with a hairpin. At the same moment Madison locks her obsessive mind on Marine Boy and begins showing up everywhere he turns, with almost ghost-like abilities.
Unable to resist her flirtatious flattery, he makes the critical error of inviting her to watch his aquatic talent. Claiming to be a non-swimmer, Madison doffs her dress and joins Ben for a lesson that culminates in on-screen sex between teens. Drowning in guilt, Ben's desire to forget the incident is hopeless as Madison becomes even more aggressive. Soon she is meddling with every aspect of Ben's life - even leaving him accused of a mysterious murder.
Swimfan is obviously relying on an inexperienced audience who isn't familiar with a by-the-numbers stalker scenario. With the exception of her boisterous bust line (which the cinematographer even uses as foreground framing in one shot), everything about Christensen's character is flat. Although she provided a solid performance in the R-rated movie Traffic, her acting here is more reminiscent of the spiders I saw in Eight Legged Freaks - no force on Earth can stop her zombie-like mission. Even when it finally looks like the situation is finished, the killer-girl somehow gets away for a 10-minute encore.
With the aforementioned sexuality, some profanities, and a shot of a floating bloody body, perhaps the film's single educational message for young people is to think twice before they spend time alone with someone - or this movie.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Swimfan.
After Ben has sex with Madison, he tries to simply continue with his life. However, he discovers the guilt he cannot suppress is even affecting his swimming. Have you ever made a mistake without considering the natural consequences of your actions? Is it possible to ignore shame or remorse completely?