Swimming Against the Waves
"Alex" is the style of movie which I would have watched as a young teen, not so much through choice but this teen drama from New Zealand would be the sort of movie which was shown on TV during the summer holidays. As such whilst "Alex" was released many years after I was a teenager that sense of nostalgia, that sense of innocence makes watching it even now a pleasure. But that doesn't mean it is perfect, "Alex" has various issues from stiff acting to a director over keen on close up snogging. Yet for what is an innocent teen drama, the sort which is rarely seen these days, it is simply entertaining especially for those who miss innocent cinema.
Alex Archer (Lauren A Jackson) is good at what ever she does be it hockey, acting, ballet or piano but the thing she is best at is swimming and she has a good chance of qualifying for the 1960 Rome Olympics. But then Maggie Benton (Cathy Godbold) and her mother show up to challenge Alex's dominance in the pool and all of a sudden Alex feels the pressure especially as she refuses to drop any of her other extra curricular activities. Thankfully her long-time friend and sweetheart Andy (Josh Picker) is there to help, to encourage her and drive her on when the going gets tough.
In a way "Alex" is a movie made to inspire young teens as we have the story of Alex who has to deal with a lot of hurdles but battles on in the face of these obstacles. And at the same time there is a touch of coming of age as Alex and Andy get sweet on each other leading to some drama and emotional issues. But do you know what whilst "Alex" has these elements it is more just an effective drama of a young girl determined to be selected to represent New Zealand at the Olympics. And as such there is something simple yet beautiful about it as we watch Alex have to deal with her dominance tested and also falling in love.
And in the strangest way that is really about it, there is some nice cinematography, sunsets by the beach are beautiful and the occasional close up of the splashing water from swimming is fantastic, although close up snogging is a bit excessive. Talking of which "Alex" is for me a teen drama but it is worth knowing there is a skinny dipping scene and the occasional typical moment of swearing. Is it offensive, no because the swearing is more funny than anything and the skinny dipping is part of an emotional series of scenes.
As for the acting, well I won't lie because there is plenty of stiffness going on as the young cast occasionally look like rabbits staring at headlights. But then the actual characters be it Lauren A Jackson as Alex Archer or Cathy Godbold as Maggie Benton are all pleasant, even the slightly villainous Mrs. Benton played by Elizabeth Hawthorne is sort of nice, well in the end.
What this all boils down to is that "Alex" is not a great piece of cinema but it is simply entertaining and charming. If like me your summer holidays often featured what ever teen drama was been showing on TV then this will be a bit of innocent nostalgia.
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