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  • This is a sensational movie for a number of reasons. The most notably is the fact that it is not some Hollywood teen flick, it was made in New Zealand has has a very New Zealand feel to it. It follows very closely in plot that of the book 'Alex' writen by Tessa Duder and does it real justice. It is an excellent film for anyone and especially for anyone who has ever had to wake up at four in the morning to swim laps of a pool or who knows how it feels to loose a loved one. A truely great film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When I was in junior-high school,(now working on my doctorate) I woke up one night at about 3:00 am and couldn't get back to sleep. I turned on the TV to HBO and there was this movie on that, for what ever reason, drew me in. I only got to see half of it, but it was enough for me to have a strong desire to see the whole movie. I checked the HBO guide and there was one other showing for the entire four months that the schedule covered. I set my VCR to record and have since then watched Alex multiple times. I still have it on the same VHS tape that I used so many years ago.

    Alex was brilliant and honestly touched my heart. There are only a few movies that I've watched that have in some way pushed to mature and be a better man and this was one of them. I can't explain it, but even thinking about this movies makes me want to watch it. I really connected with the characters in that movie and the interactions that they all had with each other.

    After watching Alex there were two things that I pondered on multiple occasions: (1) How hard it would be for Alex to continue on with her life and all that she would accomplish and experience without Andy. I mean she would obviously go on to the Olympics, have some sort of carrier, get married, and have children. That is, all without Andy. Granted it is just a movie, but also a fact of life. Sad. (2) There seemed to be some type of relationship that was the fringe of developing between Alex and Maggie. I'm so glad that idea wasn't displayed in the movie, but there seemed to be a few hints. Maybe it was just true honorable feelings that they had for one another. That is the way I'll think about it anyway.

    Thank you cast and crew of Alex! Thank you, Lauren Jackson, for the character that you played and the subtle impact it had on my life.
  • johdousha15 September 2000
    Warning: Spoilers
    SPOILER ALERT 'Alex' is a very sad movie. I always find it very sad in any movie when true love is wrecked by one party dying. That's even worse than 'Romeo and Juliet,' because then at least you get the idea that since they're both dead, they're together. But when Andy dies Alex is all alone. Great. So how can you go on after a thing like that? Well, that's where the inspiring part comes in, when Alex learns to accept Andy's death and keep up her dream. Andy was a large part of that dream, I'm sure, but everyone dies, and we the living can only accept it when the people we love die, and try to keep our life together. This movie isn't the best I've ever seen, but it was worth watching, if only to make me sad enough to think about life. Anyway, if you like swimming, you'll probably enjoy it (swimming in tears, that is).
  • The "Alex" of the title is Alexandra "Alex" Archer, a teenage New Zealand schoolgirl who is attempting to qualify for the women's 100 metre freestyle swimming event at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. When I first saw this film I assumed, wrongly, that it was a biopic of a real person, similar to the 1979 Australian film "Dawn!" based on the life of Dawn Fraser. In fact, the story told here is purely fictitious and the film is actually based on a well-known novel. (The author, Tessa Duder, was herself a New Zealand swimming champion).

    Despite the popularity of the original novel in New Zealand, the film was not a great box-office success when released in 1992, and I think that there may be two reasons for this. The first is that competitive swimming, which seems to consist of a few anonymous figures disguised by cap and goggles moving through the water, is not a natural spectator sport. Even some sports which are natural spectator sports do not always transfer well to the cinema screen; I cannot, for example, think of any really great film about tennis or even soccer, the world's most popular game. ("Bend It Like Beckham" was probably the best). Director Megan Simpson Huberman is never able to transform the races into enthralling spectacles in the way in which Hugh Hudson transformed athletics events in "Chariots of Fire".

    The second reason is that the film has a very dated feel to it. Apart from some of the incidental music there is very little to indicate that it was made in 1992 rather than, say, 1962. Ms Huberman is clearly attempting not only to recreate the look of late fifties/early sixties New Zealand in full period detail but also to capture the look of films made around that date. One reviewer aptly compares this to viewing a sequence of Kodachrome slides, and this applies not only to the stability and solidity of the camera-work but also to balance of the colours. As in a number of films made around 1960 (and in many photos taken around then) certain colours, particularly the blues and yellows, are slightly too vivid and others, particularly the reds and greens, are slightly too muted. I think that this was quite deliberate and that Ms Huberman's intention was not so much to use colour in a symbolic way- although the emphasis on blue may be appropriate in a film in which water plays such an important part- but to create an illusion that the film is contemporary with the events it depicts. When Alex's life is disrupted by tragedy, this aspect of the film is dealt with in a restrained, stiff-upper-lip way which is more 1960 than 1992.

    Now I personally have nothing against this sort of thing; indeed, I can appreciate Ms Huberman's desire to be different and to stand out from the run-of-the-mill crowd. In choosing to make her film in this way, however, she will have made an enemy of the "I hate old movies" brigade, which in 1992 probably meant those unable to appreciate any film made before 1980, and who would certainly not have appreciated a modern film made in homage to an older style of film-making.

    There is, however, a lot to appreciate in this film. It explores one of the great dilemmas at the heart of modern sport, namely must one become an obsessive monomaniac, with no time for anything but one's sport itself, in order to succeed, or can one become a sporting champion while still remaining a rounded human being? In a way, this dilemma is also one of the themes of "Chariots of Fire", where Eric Liddell represents the old-fashioned gentleman amateur for whom certain values (in his case religious ones) are far more important than anything he might do in the sporting arena, while Harold Abrahams, a professional in terms of spirit if not in terms of financial reward, can be seen as foreshadowing the modern "win at all costs" attitude.

    In this film it is Alex's main rival Margaret who epitomises the spirit of victory above everything, although one senses that this attitude is less Margaret's own than that of her pushy, snobbish and bitchy mother. (I found myself wishing, in fact, that the film had paid more attention to Margaret in order to bring out the contrasts between her and Alex). Alex herself, by contrast, epitomises the ideal of the well-rounded personality, almost a Renaissance Woman trying to reconcile her sporting endeavours with her many other interests, which besides her academic studies also include other sports, music, singing, acting, dancing (both ballroom and ballet) and her romance with her boyfriend Andy. She only gives these activities up under pressure from her coach, and even he realises that Alex's balletic skills can be put to good use in their training sessions.

    "Alex" is not in the same class as "Chariots of Fire", one of those rare, happy films where script, direction, photography, acting and music all combine to produce something of the highest quality. It does, however, have many good qualities, including Ms Huberman's defiantly independent "look" and a sterling performance in the title role from the young Lauren Jackson as the many-faceted heroine. It deserves a higher rating on this board than its current 5.5. 7/10