Capturing the doubt, paranoia, & fear of a class of people unable to reflect inwardly enough to imagine a world that could exist without them as well as helping introduce a new found, if short lived, aesthetic freedom & existentialism in American Cinema that New Hollywood would exchange in favor of the high concept blockbuster that would be used to return to the white bourgeois image that the film so acutely degrades
It simply does not dig deep enough for me : maybe because the American Dream has been shreded better in film History : maybe because watching Burt Lancaster limp through the woods in speedos kills 85% of the poetry in this one : it takes more than a couple of moral hits to make me think a film goes deep into the paradigm of being a white male in America : at the end, I was more annoyed than confronted.
The loneliness of the pool-hopping swimmer. The death-in-life of a merman. Where the swimming pools end. Released half a year after The Graduate, The Swimmer serves up a Greatest Generation supplement to that film's boomer ennui. You can't be sixty on sugar mountain. But if you're lucky, you get to be Burt Lancaster--or Tuesday Weld, with whom Perry, a master-adapter of literary anomie, later made Play It As It Lays.
Every life of luxury is built on exploitation. A philosophically dense and dreamlike look at the horror show that is American suburbia, told from the perspective of a vain man who, without his money, can no longer get in the good graces of his equally shallow neighbors. The bait-and-switch of Eleanor Perry's script that turns Ned Merrill from a sprightly Adonis to a lowly, pathetic animal is utterly ingenious.
This oddity is an interesting addition to the "American suburbia" genre. The premise is so absurd, so instantly allegorical, that the appeal is pretty much immediate. Unfortunately, by the end it forces its allegorical framing to an extent it does not reach dramatically, becoming heavy-handed and stiff. Still remains somehow magical, though.
John Cheever short story is turned into this over-baked, under written Burt Lancaster vanity project. Praised in some circles as being indicative of the rotting of the American dream instead of a portrait of a delusional broken man that sometimes comes off as downright creepy (the babysitter, the young boy). Worse of all the extremely awful score by Marvin Hamlisch that is as subtle as glass breaking.