TIFF15 REVIEW: Le cours de natation [The Swimming Lesson] [2015]

Score: 4/10 | ★ ½

Rating: NR | Runtime: 11 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (Canada)
Studio: Travelling, les films qui voyagent
Director(s): Olivia Boudreau
Writer(s): Olivia Boudreau

“Are you ok, honey?”

The synopsis talks about how Olivia Boudreau‘s Le cours de natation [The Swimming Lesson] shows a seven-year old girl (Jasmine Lemée) getting the opportunity to take a step forward towards independence. I find that to be more than a little misleading. This notion is included, especially considering her mother (Marilyn Castonguay) simply gives her a nudge in the locker room before leaving without a word, but does Lemée actual embrace this newfound self-sufficiency? Someone eventually collects her from the solitude of crippling fear on a poolside bench, leading her into the water for a bit of basic exercise, but a quick psychological jolt sends her into a metaphorically vast ocean all alone. The film provides Lemée the step, but she refuses to comply.

Instead the result proves to be more an example of bad parenting than anything else. And while I’d say it was a success in this goal—the production is high quality and the acting true-to-life—I don’t believe it was Boudreau’s intent. Perhaps it was and the person writing the marketing blurb didn’t understand, but Boudreau still has final approval of such things, right? I don’t see a child finding strength when I watch Lemée smile at others but never engage them. I don’t notice it in her daydream of hope for the warmth she’s obviously not getting at home either. To me the film is a sad story of woe, a little girl silently crying for help and love but not receiving any. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never got back into the water again.

Courtesy of TIFF

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