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Swimming Upstream

4.4 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

As the target of his father Harold's (Geoffrey Rush) drunken abuse, young Tony Fingleton (Jesse Spencer) escapes to the underwater solitude of the local pool, where he aspires to win his father's love by becoming a national swimming champion. But when his cruel father pits Tony against his own brother in a competition to make the Olympic team, Tony must find the courage to swim his way to victory... and out of his father's emotionally crippling net.

Special Features

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Swimming Upstream: The Making of a Champion

Product Details

  • Actors: Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, Jesse Spencer, Tim Draxl, Deborah Kennedy
  • Directors: Russell Mulcahy
  • Writers: Anthony Fingleton, Diane Fingleton
  • Producers: Andrew Mason, Anthony Fingleton, Carol Hughes, Howard Baldwin, Karen Elise Baldwin
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: © 2005 MGM Home Entertainment, LLC
  • DVD Release Date: May 31, 2005
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0008ENFWI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,549 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Swimming Upstream" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By thornhillatthemovies.com VINE VOICE on June 7, 2005
Format: DVD
I guarantee that you have not heard of "Swimming Upstream". This is a shame. Although it is not a great film, it deserves a larger audience.

Harold Fingleton (Geoffrey Rush, "Shine", "Quills") is an abusive, alcoholic father. His wife, Dora (Judy Davis, "Husbands and Wives") seems to put up with it, to keep their family of four boys and one daughter together. Trying to eke out a living on the docks, Harold frequently spends what money he makes on beer and leaves the family to fend for themselves. The oldest son, Harold Jr. is the light of his father's eye. Good at football, Harold is proud of Jr. and makes no effort to hide the fact that he favors the one son. The other sons then compete for their father's attentions. One day at the pool, Harold realizes that two of his sons are quite good. Tony has an amazing backstroke and John is a great freestyle swimmer. Harold switches his attentions to John and begins coaching them both, pushing them to become better. Five years later, the two boys are entering competitions and still looking for their father's approval. Tony (Jesse Spencer) is becoming quite a force on the junior competition circuit and will probably win. John (Tim Draxl), a year younger, is still the apple of his father's eye, but has conflicting feelings about his relationship with his brother, Tony.

Based on a true story, "Swimming Upstream", directed by Russell Mulcahy, is a riveting story. At times it becomes a little soap opera-ish, but the force of the performances helps the film stand out.

No film starring Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis is going to be bad. Both people are amazing actors and take these roles by the reins and ride them for all they are worth. Rush plays Harold Fingleton, a real bastard.
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Format: DVD
SWIMMING UPSTREAM is a brilliantly acted, deeply involving and ultimately uplifting film from Australia that deserves major audience exposure. Based on a true story of one of Australia's many championship athletes, this story is not merely another biopic (although it was autobiographically written by Anthony Fingleton, the subject of the film): this is a story about large families of poverty, about the tragedies that befall families husbanded by an alcoholic abusive father, and about the ultimate triumph of the individual soul rising out of such conditions.

Harold Fingleton (Geoffrey Rush) is a drunk, a blue collar worker who has sired five children by a strong but enabling wife Dora (Judy Davis), a man whose focus on sports finds a possible escape from his joblessness when he discovers that his two middle sons Tony (Jesse Spencer) and the younger John (Tim Draxl) are able swimmers. For reasons unclear Harold focuses on John and while he relentlessly coaches both of the boys at the town pool every day, he decides John is going to be the champion swimmer in Australia. Tony excels in the backstroke and eventually surpasses his beloved brother John's times and proceeds to win the honors Harold expected of John.

Throughout this tale of competition in swimming we are privy to the competition within the home. Harold, Jr (David Hoflin) is initially the bully yet gradually succumbs to his father's alcoholic lifestyle. Dora is beaten and abused yet is always there for her children, eking out a living and soothing the flare-up tantrums during Harold's drunken states. Tony and John cycle through periods of mutual adulation and the alternative fierce competition into which they are thrown by their father: their evolving bond is unforgettably touching.
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Format: DVD
Sometimes, success is both caused by and causes great tragedy. That seems to be the case in Swimming Upstream, a biopic based on the life of Anthony (Tony) Fingleton, who won a silver medal in the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games and could have been on the Australian team for the '64 olympics, but chose to attend Harvard instead.

The older Tony is played by Jesse Spencer, who gives off that wholesome feeling one associates with Cary Elwes or Richard Thomas. (The younger Tony is played by Mitchell Dellevergin.) Tony is the second of five kids in a family that leads an existence forever short of money. His dad, Harold (Geoffrey Rush) is often on strike at the docks, and his mom, Dora (Judy Davis), depends on scraps of overrun fabric and a tab at the local grocery store in order to make ends meet. We learn right at the beginning that life with Dad is completely dependent on his mood and how much he's been drinking. Dad might show some rare affection, but he is just as likely to give you or Mom a quick backhand across the face.

As if life with Dad wasn't hard enough, Tony has to deal with an older, bullying brother, played in the younger case by a very frightening Kain O'Keeffe. He is named Harold Jr. after his father, and he inflicts on Tony a miniature version of Dad's abuse. In one scene of sibling jealousy, Harold Jr. slams a piano keyboard cover down on Tony's fingers. When Tony runs out and tells Dad, Dad doesn't punish Harold Jr., but instead has them put on boxing gloves, which, of course, leads to Tony getting double punishment. At this point we are wondering what is going on with Dad. Is he just generally sadistic? Or does he not like Tony specifically?
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