Swimfan

on September 06, 2002 by Paul Clinton
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For a thriller about sexual obsession, "Swimfan" makes "Fatal Attraction" seem like Kabuki Theater. Flat performances and a cumbersome plot keep the flame low on this crude teen potboiler.

While "Fatal Attraction" at least played up its male paranoid fantasy about a woman who just couldn't be persuaded to break off an adulterous affair, "Swimfan" seems content in replaying familiar scenes, leaving huge gaps in the storyline and wallowing in torpor. Scripters Charles Bohl and Phillip Schneider write effectively casual dialogue but stick to the rigid structure of a B-level thriller. It sets up Ben (Jesse Bradford) as the jock hero with everything going his way. He has a sweet girlfriend (Shiri Appleby), a doting mother, a position on a championship swim team and the prospect of attending Stanford--an all-around bright future.

Enter teen seductress Madison Bell (Erika Cristensen), who draws Ben into her web. First, she asks for help opening her locker, then she leaves a notebook in his car, all the while blinking coyly at him. Soon, the two are wrapped together in the shallow end of a pool. Like Michael Douglas before him, Ben tries to back out of the entanglement after realizing his mistake.

Christensen, sporting golden curls and a closetfull of teasing outfits, doesn't act crazed enough until much too late to be a convincing jilted stalker-lover. She's far too low-key for the role. Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" understood the role needed desperation. It's too far a reach for Christensen (brilliant as the spoiled daughter in "Traffic").

As the object of the obsession, Bradford's rugged good looks make him a fairly convincing target. The actor smartly doesn't overplay his scenes.

Even with the ripe finale, "Swimfan" is mostly a snoozer. Starring Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen and Shiri Appleby. Directed by John Polson. Written by Charles Bohl and Phillip Schneider. Produced by Joseph Caracciolo Jr., John Penotti and Allison Lyon Segan. A Fox release. Thriller. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content, disturbing images and language. Running time: 85 min

Tags: Starring Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen, Shiri Appleby. Directed by John Polson. Written by Charles Bohl and Phillip Schneider. Produced by Joseph Caracciolo Jr, John Penotti, Allison Lyon Segan, Fox, Thriller
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