“The Midnight Swim” – A bold, beautiful, and brilliant debut film
Written and directed by: Sarah Adina Smith
Starring: Lindsay Burdge, Jennifer Lafleur, Aleksa Palladino, Ross Partridge, and Beth Grant
“The Midnight Swim” from writer director Sarah Adina Smith is centered on the story of three half sisters who have reunited and come home under the unsettling circumstances of their mothers disappearance into the lake they all grew up next to. One of the sisters June (Lindsay Burdge) is documenting the homecoming, and right away we see that this is also a sort of coping mechanism for her, enabling her to deal with her own psychological instabilities and the affect that being home with her sisters has on her. Unlike most “Found footage” films this is more a tool that enables the viewer to see and feel things from June’s introverted perspective.
I am not going to delve too deeply into the story. The reason being that I think everyone should see this film and know very little going in. This is such a layered, metaphysical, dreamlike film that the story that is right in front of you is really only a vehicle for something far far greater. What is that something? It is up to the viewer to decide and that is part of the beauty.
When I saw “Mulholland Drive” in the theater I remember being able to admit that I didn’t have a grasp on what the whole thing meant, but I knew that it was amazing, and profound, and that it spoke to my soul. That is how I feel now, having watched Smith’s incredible creation. The mystery of all three of the sisters behavior and if and how it was being affected by the lake,The haunting story of the seven sisters who had lived there before, the occurances in nature that begin immediately after the attempted summoning of the seventh sister by the girls and Josh (Ross Partridge). All of these things along with some gorgeous cinematography and audio/visual manipulation make the entire viewing experience feel like a lucid dream.
I should also note that the acting is impressive by the whole cast. Burdge, Jennifer Lafleur, and Aleksa Palladino are very convincing as siblings. You could easily believe they were sisters in real life, and that is no easy task. The way they interact seems natural which helps drive the realism of the story (even if it’s supposed to be surreal). Sarah Adina Smith blended the perfect amount of symbolism, mythology, and family drama and entrusted all of it to a great cast and it worked very well.
There are no easy answers to the questions you will have while watching “The Midnight Swim”. The ending doesn’t tidy everything up and give you closure or some long explanation of the events that have unfolded. You are given a nuanced well told story presented with strong imagery and delivered through fine acting. Just open up your mind and enjoy the ride. Most importantly though, see this movie… and then contact me so we can talk about it.