Movies / Movie Reviews

Drown (2015)


By Hervé St-Louis
June 22, 2022 - 23:22

Lifeguard Len Smithy finds out that the new Phil, the new lifeguard who beat his record in an annual competition is gay. Lenny, a closeted gay man is jealous of Phil, and starts to bully him and make his life miserable. After another win for Phil, Len, along with his other closeted sidekick, Meat, takes Phil to several bars, including gay bars in the hopes to intoxicate his competitor and later, attempt to bury him in a beach just before the high tide. Will Len succeed in killing Phil, whom he secretly fancies?

For many, this film is tough to watch as Len tortures Phil throughout the film and puts his life in danger. Yet this film is incredible. One can sense the tepid jealousy, lust, and attraction felt by Len towards Phil. The worst part is Meat, the pitiful sidekick who is like a lapdog adoring Lenny, who is as much closeted as his pal, and possibly in love with him.

I like to complain that many gay films have the “they play in the water” sequence. Well, this one is about lifeguards, and beautiful Australian beaches. Lenny still feels the pain of a woman he left drown. She wanted to die. The water scenes are not about gay guys cavorting in the water. They are more about the sense of alienation Lenny feels. In a sense, this film reminds me of 1998’s Le Grand bleu (The Big Blue) where exploration of water and the ocean was a deep quiet place where lives are made or broken.

Lenny is clearly drowning in guilt, shame, and fear throughout the movie, and projecting all his pain on poor Phil, while being aided by the hapless Meat. Meat is the classic enabler, incapable of seeing the errors of his best friend constantly enabling his wrecked masculinity. The banter between Lenny and Meat about naked men and gay sex is stupid and childish but this is the level of maturity that they both have. Meanwhile, Phil remains stoic and willing to play along with the boys, in the hopes of fitting in and not drawing more attention to himself. That does not help, of course.

The cinematography is astonishing with several closeups and beautiful colours and lighting. What will confuse many is the non-sequential storytelling which tells the story in a disjointed manner.

Rating: 9 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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