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171 Ratings

Swimming to Cambodia

Directed by Jonathan Demme
United States, 1987


Spalding Gray sits behind a desk throughout the entire film and recounts his exploits and chance encounters while playing a minor role in the film The Killing Fields. At the same time, he gives a background to the events occurring in Cambodia at the time the film was set.

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Swimming to Cambodia Directed by Jonathan Demme

Critics reviews

The film relies solely on Gray’s powers as a storyteller–and they are considerable–but heightens them with the judicious use of camera angle, close up and editing rhythm, that cumulatively works to eradicate the fourth wall. It helps that the narrative Gray weaves is never less than surprising, and very often so self-skeweringly funny that it completely disarms the viewer of any irritation at the self-indulgence of the project.
April 27, 2017
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A musical where the solo performer speaks rather than sings. Every shot, every cut, every camera move is choreographed to convey the emotional essence of Gray’s narrative or else play against it or subvert it. Sometimes Demme goes high when Gray is in an emotional trough, or looks at him head-on when he’s being evasive. They seem to be dancing with each other as well as looking at each other.
April 26, 2017
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