Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.


In the familiar thriller Swimfan, high-school senior Jesse Bradford lives in a small New Jersey town that's home to a renowned swimming team and an abundance of moody lighting. There, he enjoys a committed, high-school-style long-term relationship with Roswell's Shiri Appleby, as well as all the benefits of being the team's star swimmer. The arrival of new student Erika Christensen threatens to change all that. When an after-hours swim lesson turns into a heavily chlorinated night of sin, Bradford becomes the object of Christensen's obsession, receiving frequent sexual propositions, nude e-mails, and other forms of harassment that teenage boys hate. In time, the pranks take on a spooky edge, as Christensen starts showing up at Bradford's house unannounced and threatens to spill the beans about their forbidden tryst. One decade, and little else, separates Swimfan from the rash of Fatal Attraction-inspired early-'90s thrillers in which ordinary people befriend, annoy, are menaced by, and usually kill new acquaintances who seem just as ordinary but harbor dark pasts and darker capabilities. Swimfan is no worse than The Crush, The Temp, Unlawful Entry, and the like, but it's also no better. Characters pop out of dark corners they never could have sneaked into, villains orchestrate elaborate acts of vengeance that would seem to require the time and resources of a small staff, and when the pace starts to drag, the film throws in the corpse of a supporting character to keep things lively. At least Christensen seems to have the right idea: She gives her character a look that's part lust, part thousand-yard stare, and part Machiavelli in tight sweaters and form-fitting skirts. It's not exactly acting, but it's not predictable, either, which makes it stand out all the more.


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