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The Swimmers Detailed Review: The Mixture Of Dream And Fear In A Human

"The Swimmers" is based on the real-life story of Syrian sisters who fled their country. Film producers were lining up in 2016 to secure rights to the life story of professional swimmers Yusra and Sara Mardini, but the sisters turned down multiple offers. The siblings were known for their remarkable story of survival and heroism, but after fleeing Syria’s ongoing civil war just one year earlier, they weren’t yet ready for the world to see it on screen.
Now it has just been released on November 11, 2022. Here is a detailed review of The Swimmers Netflix.

1. The Swimmers: What is it about?

Netflix The Swimmers Review

Two sisters, Yusra and Sara, find their life in Damascus upended by the approaching chaos of 2015, their fears of what is to come replaced by the horror of what is in front of them. Yusra and Sara are played, in a neat on-paper get, by real-life sisters Nathalie and Manal Issa. While some of the early forebodings are awkward (poolside screams are shown to be just that while a foam rocket is launched into the water), it does the story and the refugee narrative in general good to show viewers how boringly normal everything can be before bombs start falling. There are effective if sparse, moments in the first act – the girls dance on a rooftop bar as explosions ignite the sky at a distance, and a run-in with soldiers on the bus becomes a nauseous act of molestation – but it’s clear early on that we are in the hands of those who think more works better than less.
The journey the girls are then forced to take is a tense and immersive one, the two are sent on a long and dangerous trek to Germany with their cousin, relying on shady contacts and precarious transport. Scenes of them in an overloaded inflatable boat are frightening but also frustrating, with some over-directed flourishes proving to be distracting, along with the dreaded return of Sia, it all seems a little uninspired after a similarly fraught sequence was told so creatively in Flee. Flaws aside, we are inevitably swept up in the unfair chaos of their ongoing travels and eager to see them find safety. For Yusra, happiness isn’t just tied to where she ends up but also to what she ends up doing. The pair had been trained by their father to become professional swimmers, and while Sara started to lose interest, Yusra is determined to make it to the Olympics. 

Netflix The Swimmers Review

It’s in the final, rushed, act when the film swerves off onto the road to Rio, by which time our patience is starting to stretch. The bloated 134-minute run time is in line with a general sense of overkill throughout, from an overemphatic score to some moments of overacting to pieces of oversimplified dialogue, but there’s still so much that feels underdeveloped, mostly when it comes to Sara’s life and her wants and needs. When the film comes to a close and the credits show us what happened to her after the Olympics, her activism and the dangers that came with it, we end up wishing the film had found more time to include it, given how much more dramatically appealing it sounds in comparison with the Olympic dream. While the beats often do work well within the sports movie setup, some of them feel a little too strong-armed near the end, the film straining for cheers it never truly earns.
The Issa sisters are both fine, a natural off-screen chemistry buoying moments when their dialogue feels more artificial, but the casting often feels more explained by the gimmick of their relationship rather than their suitability for the roles. Thorne’s script doesn’t expand their characters beyond the basest of types, and so the sisters are more defined by what happens to them then who they really are. There’s an extraordinary story to be told here. It’s just a shame it had to be told in such an ordinary way. 

2. The Swimmers Netflix Review

Netflix The Swimmers Review

In the end, you can find yourself anxiously engaged when watching the events play out with excitement and anticipation and all through. This I was invested in the characters especially with Yusra because she becomes the main focus of the story. As the film closes out we are given title cards on the screen that fill in details of what happens after this story concludes we're updated on what Yusra did in the coming years as well as the Pursuits that Sarah took on now it's a nice way to cap the story and provide resolution so overall. This story takes to tell the accounts of the sisters and really the refugees as a whole is a captivating and emotional journey.

Netflix The Swimmers Review

Sometimes the camera was too close to the subject so some of the visuals were cramped and they're difficult to discern what was going on but that also helped to put us into the mindset of the people on this boat they're crammed in and with way more passengers that is really safe now during this scene. The way director Sally El Hosaini chose to adapt the story of Syrian refugee turned Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini, one could easily go to her soundtrack choice: Sia's loud, anthemic radio pop. She wants you to feel big emotions in a big way, and there's little room for either in this Netflix drama that plays more like a Disney sports movie.
There's nothing wrong with that formula inherently, and few stories are harder to resist than an underdog done right, but El Hosaini, working with a script from renowned playwright and screenwriter Jack Thorne, finds herself going for the broadest strokes throughout, giving her film the feel of a slightly anonymous Hollywoodization, efficient in some ways but ultimately lacking, a film aiming to be liked by everyone but loved by nobody.

Netflix The Swimmers Review

The visuals are beautiful and sometimes gritty balancing innocence and atrocity to show us the realities the refugees faced. While swimming may not always be the central focus of the storytelling, the determination and resolve of the characters showcases how Champions can be found everywhere. There's no sensitive nudity a lot of profanity and some brutal violence including sexual assault give the swimmers four out of five couches. The swimmers it's based on a true story and has a bunch of drama but is it worth it in the end. Tense situations are continuously growing and worth a try.

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