Currently screening at the HollyShorts Film Festival, writer/director Kat Green's The Big Swim stars Kimberly Leemans (The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries) as Rachel, a woman whose mother died of hereditary cancer when she was a little girl. When she thinks she might be suffering the same fate, Rachel decides to face her fears and fulfill her mother's dying wish - to swim with sharks. Setting out on a journey to Cozumel, where she meets a handsome dive master named Luca (Falk Hentschel, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Reckless), she realizes that sharks aren't nearly as scary as falling in love.
Filmed on location in Cozumel, along with scenes in Los Angeles, The Big Swim was shot using live bull sharks and without stunt doubles, cages or special effects.
Unfortunately, The Big Swim as also shot utilizing a script that plays like a Nicholas Sparks short with romanticized melodrama set against a backdrop of stunningly beautiful scenery, much of it courtesy of Fiorella Occipinti's stellar lensing, and bathed in an aura of inspiration.
Now then, if it sounds like I'm completely making light of or dissing The Big Swim I can assure you that I'm not. Having interviewed Nicholas Sparks, I can assure you that while I may not consider his films to be great cinema I do rather enjoy them and believe they have a solid place in the American cinema landscape. The same is true for a film like The Big Swim, though for me the film feels lacking in focus as we bounce between an inspirational story of a woman confronting her fears and family history and a more bland and less compelling "romance" that develops superficially between she and her dive "instructor."
The Big Swim feels like a work-in-progress, either a short film that needs a little more tweaking or a short film striving to become a feature film. The story, particularly the relationship between Rachel and Luca, feels rushed and unnatural while the climactic scene, or what one feels would be, isn't that particularly climactic as we continue wrestling with the relationship and the scene with the sharks is, in fact, momentarily tranquil then abruptly ended.
Despite the issues I had with the film, The Big Swim is a promising film and a film likely to resonate with indie fest moviegoers. There's not a lot of this type of film on the film festival circuit and kudos must be given to Kat Green for creating such a beautifully manifested and promising short film. It'll be interesting to see how the film develops over the course of its festival circuit. For more information on the film, visit its official website linked to in the credits.