Saturday, November 28, 2015

"Drown": homophobic bullying in the Australian surf lifesaving set nearly leads to tragedy

Drown” (2015), by Dean Francis, is an intensive, and brief (96 minutes) sun-scorched Australian drama film about anti-gay bullying within the surf lifesaving competitions world, which probably most of us know little about.
Len (Matt Levett) is upended when newcomer Phil (Jack Matthews) wins a competition, and then is seen publicly showing “public displays of affection” with another man.  After an awards dinner, Len attacks Phil, who turns the other cheek.  When Phil wins still another competition, Len arranges a hazing party on the beach (with another companion) where Len contemplates how to “humiliate” Phil and starts to realize that he (Len) gets his own homoerotic pleasure from contemplating the abasement.  Then a concept from old pirate movies – burying the victim from the neck down and waiting for the tide, emerges, with nearly tragic results.

Much of the story is told in flashbacks, particularly of some disco dance scenes where the boundaries of attraction even for straight men seem to be explored.

The film doesn’t go into areas where the lifesaving might really be useful, for example, rescuing victims of shark bites or even box jellyfish attacks.
The official site is here.  It will have a theatrical release in Australia in early 2016, but Strand Releasing will make the film available on DVD om Dec. 15, 2015.
I reviewed the film from a Vimeo screener from Strand.

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