Writer/director Dean Francis’ Australian film is based on Stephen Davis’ stage play of the same name. Drown is a story about homophobia in sport, in this case it’s the tight knitted Sydney lifeguards that are put under a microscope. The film stars Matt Levett, Maya Stange, Jack Matthews & Harry Cook.
The premise centers around Len, a legacy champion surf lifeguard, whose legendary status in the surf club start to crumble when Phil joins and de-thrones him of a 6th surf competition champion title. Jealous, hot-tempered, and a sore looser at that Len didn’t like loosing to Phil especially upon finding out about Phil’s sexuality. Phil is gay. So Len and his best friend nicknamed “Meat” befriend Phil for the worst reasons imaginable.
Review: Drown may be set in a world/community that I’m not very familiar with but it’s almost impossible not to relate to the tight knit brotherhood based on sports and drinking that is showcased in this film. It captured so seamlessly the dynamic between young men bonded over a common passion or a sport. A dynamic in which your bros and your masculinity is all that counts, no place for weakness, tenderness or affection.
Len is the typical and yet quite the unconventional bully, his obsession with Phil is unnerving, and the same could be said for his relationship to his best friend/lackey “Meat.” But what makes Drown interesting is the feeling that regardless of Phil’s sexual orientation, there is no doubt that Len would have bullied and harass Phil. Yes Phil’s sexual orientation enraged Len but the insight into Len’s upbringing only cemented his reaction to Phil’s addition to the team. Meat is not just the unsuspecting guy who can’t stand up to his friend and finds himself at the wrong place and time. He shines a new light on Len, while giving a few layers to Meat. Phil (Jack Matthews) is also very interesting, he may not exactly be in the forefronts of this story but his willingness to put up with everything just so he could belong to the group is sad and impressive at the same time.
The cast did a marvelous job Matt Levett’s Len was captivating and intriguing, his inner turmoils is palpable and great to watch. Harry Cook’s performance as Meat was quite and powerful, and Jack Matthews’ Phil is relatable and very real.
Much like Len is confronted with his inner demons, Drown confronts the audience to what we’ve all seen happened at some point in our lives, bullying. The film is honest, intense, brutal and raw, a clash of worlds that make for an amazing emotionally charged climax. Have you seen it what did you think about it?