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SWING

After serving a two year sentence for robbery Martin Luxford (Hugo Speer) emerges from prison determined to win back the love of his girlfriend Joan (Lisa Stansfield). Taught to play saxophone by fellow inmate Jack (Clarence Clemmons), Martin's other dream is to start a swing group. After receiving a frosty reception at home, Martin begins recruiting band members including football-mad double bass player Buddy (Scott Williams), ex-skinhead band drummer Oi (James Hicks) and a brass section from the local Orange Brigades led by Mighty Mac (Alexei Sayle). Joan agrees to sing with the band, much to the displeasure of husband Andy (Danny McCall), Martin's arresting officer who is determined to send Martin back to prison by any means possible.

"A sort of grown up, swing-flavoured Commitments, Swing tries hard but ends up playing like a modest cover version of a well known hit. It moves along pleasantly enough in the opening sequences as Martin emerges from prison to find the odds stacked against him (parental disapproval, girlfriend now married, probation officer breathing down his neck, etc), all of which leads us to expect a jump in the tempo once the band starts playing. It doesn't really work out that way and smiles rather than full-blown laughter is the most you can expect as the potential in a series of funny set-ups isn't capitalised. The band's first gig at a heavy-metal hangout should have been a big laugh-getter but fails to deliver; ditto a tea-dance sequence at a fancy hotel and the character of Arnold (Dermot Kierney) an eccentric lottery winner drawn into the band's circle by Martin's scheming brother Liam (Paul Usher). On the plus side there's the likeable romantic combination of Hugo Speer and Lisa Stansfield, Nerys Hughes as Lisa's sassy-talking Italian mother and a toe-tapping selection of swing favourites. Although easy to take and always a pleasure watching old pros like Rita Tushingham and Tom Bell inject such feeling as the Liverpudlian working class parents, I couldn't help feeling there was a truly delightful film struggling and failing to break through."
Richard Kuipers

"The script of this supposed romantic comedy is entirely unoriginal, though the film is unique in its ability to borrow (read rip-off) from similar, more successful movies - and do absolutely nothing with them. In a scene potentially reminiscent of the famous Rawhide performance in the Blues Brothers, the band play their first gig at a heavy metal, punk club. So what do the locals do when they discover their entertainment for the night is in fact swing music? Surprise, surprise, they turn up their stereo to drown out the sound. I generally dislike senseless violence in cinema, but here even I was hanging out for a tussle. The plot is essentially the same as Alan Parker’s The Commitments, with one crucial difference. The Commitments’ musical numbers were punctuated by moments of crackling humour and real dramatic conflict, while director Mead fails to invoke any empathy with his characters and glosses over the trials and tribulations experienced in starting up a band. The abundance of talented musicians living within a five kilometre radius of the action and their ability to instantly produce fabulous sound together, does nothing for the film’s credibility. Making matters worse, the delightful musical performances featuring Lisa Stansfield’s soulful vocals are few and far between. Speer made more of an impression in his less substantial role in The Full Monty and the other performers are given very little to do, notably cellmate Clarence Clemons, who only plays one short sax solo. I can almost hear the dazzling display of creative logic employed by the filmmakers here – ‘let’s cast a talented musician and NOT let him play’. Save yourself the time and just buy the soundtrack."
Angie Fox

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

SWING (M)
(UK)

CAST: Hugo Speer, Lisa Stansfield, Clarence Clemmons, Scott Williams, Paul Usher, Tom Bell, Rita Tushingham, Danny McCall, Alexei Sayle

DIRECTOR: Nick Mead

PRODUCER: Su Lim

SCRIPT: Nick Mead

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ian Wilson

EDITOR: Norman Buckley

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Bridgland

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 27, 2000







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