Unusual for an Argentine film in that it focuses on a middle-class world, “Swimming Alone’s” tale of prep school rebels without a cause remains too uninvolving to have much appeal outside the adolescents it addresses. Incorporating some of the awkwardness and monotony of its young hero in the narrative structure doesn’t help move the action forward, and, predictably, film ends on a note of inconclusiveness. Tyro helmer Ezequiel Acuna nonetheless shows a feeling for camera and characters that should carry him on to a more mature work.
Martin (Nicolas Mateo) is an unsure 17-year-old prone to cutting class with his hip best friend Guillermo (Santiago Pedrero) to sit by the sea or practice with his rock band. Lazy, slobbish and a little paranoid, Martin is a typical teenage boy who can be irritatingly obsessive, especially when trying to get people on the phone. His well-to-do parents are depicted as flighty and distant in a few well-painted strokes.
The mystery of what became of his elder brother Pablo, who left home two years previously, provides him with the excuse to make a secret train trip to Mar del Plata and look for him. There, he meets Luciana (Antonella Costa), who like him puts on a veneer of dead-serious cool to mask her insecurities; though offering little closure, their budding relationship suggests Martin has reached some kind of positive turning point.
Actors, many of whom are drawn from television, slip easily into their roles. The melancholy winter beach landscape reflects pic’s mood and picks up some facile swimming symbolism to signal that life is a solitary journey. Tech work is well-handled by cinematographer Octavio Lovisolo and composer Marcelo Ezquiaga, aided by Jaime Sin Tierra’s songs.