Unless one has experienced the bone chilling cold of Scotland's waterways, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit even in summer) the rigorous training of the aspiring Channel swimmer in this film cannot be appreciated. Scotland is a beautiful land filled with warm hearted people, but it is always COLD and very, very windy. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the story, and the characterizations of the very real Glaswegians. As I watched this on HBO I was able to follow the subtitles, but having lived in Scotland, the accent was music to my ears.
The man who had spent 36 years in the shipyards, expecting to retire there, is suddenly confronted with the unthinkable - unemployment. Not only is he robbed of his self esteem, he no longer a breadwinner, but he has a lot of time to think and not necessarily of things that he wants to remember. His job had been his life - all he had to do was show up for work every day. He and his wife had settled into a cordial routine where they lived together in a marriage that had long since become a habit. They no longer had any real communication. She does not tell him that she is learning to drive a double decker bus (in high heals no less) and he doesn't tell her that he is planning to swim the channel "what channel?" Thanks to the social security system and National Health Service, being laid off from one's job in Britain does not the potential for financial disaster that it has in the US, but it is still an unpleasant experience to find oneself discarded in mid-life, hence the need to "do" something memorable.
The performances all round are excellent, especially Benjamin Wong who was right on target as the Chinese chippy who no one realized could speak English. When he did, it was with a Glasgow accent. Each man starts to build up his own self-esteem and stand up for himself.
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