Review of The Swimmer (1968)

Moving picture, 95 minutes

Perhaps everything hinges on the protagonist’s mental state, his degree of recall and acceptance, and the final scene (with the storm cliché) is the truth and the reason why he’s been gone for two years with no memory of that time passing. This would require Merill to be imagining a very arbitrary portion of the early scenes. Alternately, perhaps the metaphor has the upper hand and the incongruities stem from Merill’s life being “poetically” jammed into the afternoon. This would seem to be a more parsimonious explanation of the change of seasons, but it makes the final scene a boring signifier of the American Dream. If it’s both, the drawbacks stack up. I would have preferred a mode of unresolved doubt, with less “evidence” either way. Still better than the short story.

moving picture fiction