The Swimmer

Adapted from John Cheever's corrosively chlorinated chronicle, The Swimmer is a total immersion experience. Clad only in trunks, buff Burt Lancaster plays Ned Merrill, a moneyed inhabitant of a lush suburb in Connecticut who decides to celebrate a beautiful summer day by swimming home, pool by pool. This quest-which begins with purifying pleasure and slowly darkens as Ned reaches the deep end-takes the form of a mythic journey, albeit one punctuated by highballs and catered picnics. At each neighbor's affluent watering hole, he has a brief encounter that dredges up some failing from his murky past. But Ned's compulsive desire to swim the length of the “Lucinda River,” named for his absent wife, is matched by a subtle disorientation-slowly the weather chills, the season evolves, and the abounding nature of the suburb turns to menace. Tanned and taut, Burt Lancaster glides through this immeasurably deep movie like a struggling swimmer whose arms tire and then drowns. Plunge in.

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