The Midnight Swim
Directed by Sarah Adina Smith
Spirit Lake is unusually deep. No diver has ever managed to find the bottom. When Dr. Amelia Brooks disappears during a deep-water dive, her three daughters travel home. They find themselves unable to let go and become drawn into the mysteries of the lake.
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★★★★ review by voidember on Letterboxd
Sometimes I think about what the landscape of film would be like right now if we were living in a matriarchy or gender-balanced society; if most films (or even half of films) had been directed and created by women. What a beautiful place that would be. What a strange land of wonders.
As it is, when women do actually get to make films, there's always a patina of pain that I feel we can't help but include--after all, the lives of women in this society are so full of pain, regardless of what we want. As I have three sisters, a mother who I've never really understood, and as I was the black sheep who struggled with mental illness from an early age, this stung with a particularly sharp acuteness. There is so much we don't know; but women are always closer to discovery.
★★★★ review by Marna Larsen on Letterboxd
I'm still not sure about the ending. Or maybe it's too hard for me to relate - not to June being the last one left (I am, too) but her ability to let go, as I seem to be having trouble with that.
I wasn't sure about the inclusion of the love interest either but now, I think his character helps to make the first half of the movie a sort of return to a childhood summer, friends around the neighborhood left to their own devices, making the latter half of the movie even more unsettling.
Though oddly, when his character is respectfully phased out so the focus can return to the relationship between the sisters, I thought about how hard my boyfriend's family tries to include and love me even though I rarely speak and must often look like I'm seconds from running from the room. How, in the end, their efforts simply don't matter. My lost family is the one I want and that's just how it is.
My own mother was still alive the first time I watched this on Shudder. I had forgotten and had a lot of trouble with many of the scenes which so brilliantly convey the (very different) greiving processes the sisters are going through.
I relate to the thing with the house. If my brother were still alive, maybe we could return to our childhood home and recreate the spell - those few months when we were both home and realized though we were so far apart in age and experience, we were very alike and understood each other in a way no one else ever has. But with him gone, there are times I don't care if they just knock it down since I'll never have any of that again. What's left are only objects.
But while we're on the subject, I loved the lake house used. Everything worked and was almost hyper-organic in a way which creates a very unique, surreal atmosphere. But the thing I admire the most about this film is understanding, without ever really being told, where the very different women are coming from. Little details about their lives are conveyed with incredible subtlety.
I'm really looking forward to Sarah Adina Smith's second film, Buster's Mal Heart which I'm going to try and fit in on Sunday.
★★★★★ review by Cody on Letterboxd
Shrouded with mystery, The Midnight Swim is my favorite indie of this year so far.
This mysterious drama focuses on 3 half sisters who return home, after the disappearance of their mother. From the beginning, there are supernatural elements present, but are extremely subtle. This is borderline horror, but never ventures off into horror territory. It's strictly a drama with supernatural elements.
The acting was superb. All of the women were just fantastic playing sisters. They had the chemistry that felt like they actually were sisters dealing with the family issues. Jennifer Lafleur was the star of this film. She had the motherly element to her that only older sisters possess.
I actually really enjoyed how this was filmed. This is honestly the best "found footage" I have seen, if you could consider it that. The POV filming was interesting, since you get to see the grief of the other sisters, but not the one filming. It's a risk, but it was definitely worth it in this case.
The Midnight Swim may seem like it's a mystery that's action packed, but it's not. Instead, you get a family drama that is a slow burner. Nonetheless, The Midnight Swim is one of the best films I have seen. I am speechless after watching this. This movie is amazing.
★★★★½ review by Alex Kittle on Letterboxd
I wasn't too sure what to expect from this movie but it sucked me in very quickly with its eerie atmosphere, sisterly melodrama, clever use of found footage technique, simple but assured visual style, and vague sense of the paranormal. I was digging it anyway and then it threw in a completely unexpected musical number and I fell, hard.
★★★★ review by Dawson Joyce on Letterboxd
A strong, well-crafted directorial debut from Sarah Adina Smith, The Midnight Swim is a well-acted, genuinely sincere, and effortlessly authentic drama featuring one of the most believable depictions of a relationship among sisters ever put to film.
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