Burt Lancaster plays Ned, a wealthy, middle-aged advertising executive, who sets out in only his swim trunks to embark on a journey through suburban Connecticut. He travels from house to house, swimming pool to swimming pool, with each stop giving insight into Ned's past. Frank Perry's The Swimmer is a fascinating character study that slowly and methodically strips away the layers of its main protagonist. As Ned goes form house to house, he meets old friends and acquaintances with the film slowly peeling away Ned's self-protective veneer, exposing a more disillusioned man whose ideal lifestyle may be more facade than fact. The screenplay of The Swimmer is quite masterful, introducing a character whose incredibly charming, happy, handsome and likeable, while slowly revealing the type of man he truly is under this facade of happiness. The Swimmer is a somewhat seering deconstruction of the suburban lifestyle, stripping away the paradise-like facade of white-picket fences and swimming pools, presenting it as a place that breeds loneliness and isolation. The film comes to a masterful conclusion when Ned has a confrontation with his ex-mistress Janice, which leaves him feeling defeated and banished. This alone would have been a worthy conclusion to Ned's story but the real treat lies right around the corner as Ned heads home defeated, desperately needing the love and care of his wife and daughters. I won't spoil the ending, as it's definitely memorable, but lets just say the conclusion perfectly wraps up this deconstruction of Ned.
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