Making a movie about the swinging scene is no easy feat. Make it too bleak and serious and you have the potential to be stuck in the shadow of a well-revered movie like Shame. Make it too amusing and you could end up in the company of Sex Lives Of The Potato Men. Swung tries to find a decent middle ground, and it largely succeeds in doing that, yet also ends up just being far too . . . . . . middling.
Elena Anaya and Owen McDonnell play Alice and David. The latter has a case of erectile dysfunction, which Alice soon starts to think may be helped by an adventure or two in the swinging scene. That’s not a quick, immediate decision, of course. One or two events lead up to the moment that starts them on their journey of sexual exploration, but the film becomes more entertaining when they decide to at least see what may be waiting for them at the other end of a website connection.
Writer Ewan Morrison is at his best when showing the perceived reality of the swinging scene. Images of slightly eager couples throwing car keys into a big bowl are soon dispelled when Alice and David meet up with their first couple – a great scene that shows the women quickly getting along with one another while the men try to find common ground to chat about in the pub. And the film doesn’t shy away from nudity, with even one erect penis waved at viewers at one point. Yet Morrison, and director Colin Kennedy, seem to strategically place their more risqué moments in a way obviously akin to death scenes in slasher movies that don’t have the budget for great gore effects. Those moments are required, considering the type of movie this is, but they feel reluctantly served up. Not quite the minimum requirement, but close enough. Everything else in the movie is equally perfunctory, making it hard to even stay interested in the main characters.
Anaya and McDonnell are both fine, although it’s the former who ends up having to be the braver one when it comes to the sexual content – strange, considering that the movie starts off highlighting the problem that the male character has. Others come and go from the screen, but the only one who stands out is Elizabeth McGovern, portraying an older woman who has been a swinger for many years. She knows that it’s not actually about sex. Great things happen when a connection is made, or when couples take time to truly look at one another.
I don’t think that it’s impossible for a good film about this subject matter to be made in the UK. I just think that this one doesn’t quite cut it, although it’s not altogether BAD either. It just should have tried harder (no pun intended).
Swung was screened at EIFF 2015.
DIRECTOR: COLIN KENNEDY
WRITER: EWAN MORRISON
STARS: ELENA ANAYA, OWEN MCDONNELL, ELIZABETH MCGOVERN
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX