Review of Drown

Drown directed by Dean Francis tries to present the story of Len a championship lifesaver who is following in the footsteps of his father in both his private and public life Len soon comes into conflict with a fellow lifesaver named Phil who is a gay man. Francis uses cuts and flashbacks to past moments in Len’s life to show the audience the effects that mindsets like the standard story, the negotiated order, natural attitude, sexual scripts and othering. Dean Francis was ultimately trying to show the problems that these actions lead to regarding the mental health and identity of young people who are reared in environments where these mindsets are considered normal and appropriate; Francis used flashbacks and non-linear story to allow the audience to connect to the feelings that Len is going through and be just as confused of Len’s identity as he is which really allows viewers who have not experienced these types of pressures to connect with Len and have sympathy for him. Francis developed the troubled character of Len through showing his skewed view of what a man is and presenting the happiness that comes from accepting your true identity, although the movie only represented the issues of gay men and did not depict issues of race or gender.

When Len first sees Phil it is clear that he is younger, stronger and better looking than Len this immediately puts Len into completion with Phil over who is the better man, this relationship begins to get violent after Len realizes that Phil is gay which is something that Len sees as degrading and should make Phil less of a man but it does not challenging Len’s prior mindsets. A scene that depicts Len’s disillusionment comes when Len attempts to embarrass Phil by having a competition to see who can pick up a girl first, Len thinks that Phil won’t be able to do it but Phil ends up having better luck picking up a girl then Len causing him confusion, which stems from his understanding of basic sexual scripts in which a gay man is not normal but should not be able to attract a straight woman; this misconception also comes from the negotiated order in Len’s life that has led him to think less of hommosexuals. Another point of interest throughout the movie regarding Len’s view of what a man is comes through his interactions with his friend Meat, one of these moments comes in a flashback to Len and Meat in a locker room with Meat showing Len that he is well endowed Meat is embarrassed but Len quickly tells him that people will look up to him and respect him for it, this reflects a view of the standard story in Lens view where a male who is well endowed is automatically a better man and more desirable.

Francis also draws a parallel view of Len’s life and happiness compared to Phil’s life and happiness; In the flashbacks to Len’s life Len is shown to be working class through his job at a dump and taking care of his father in a fairly rough looking house, Francis is trying to connect Len’s surroundings to the fact that Len does not accept who he is. Phil ‘s life immediately seems better than Len’s he looks happy he spends most of his time with his partner out having a good time he is never shown to be unhappy, this reflects the idea that Phil has accepted who he is and is living a carefree lifestyle not holding anything back. Through showing these parallels Francis is changing the idea of othering by having Phil’s (A homosexual) life be more desirable then Len’s (A heterosexual) life, Francis is not trying to glamorise the life of homosexual well making heterosexual look miserable he is instead glamorizing being who you are and show that the cultural norm should be that people live the life they truly want to live.

My only problems with Drown came from its representations of race and gender or its lack of representations, starting with the cast there was only one important female character and she had no name and no lines although this does not come as much of a shock do to the context of the movie which focuses on the journey of a repressed man. Also the cast was not only a majority male but there were also almost no characters that weren’t white the only character of race with lines was an Asian man in a gay club, I found this very strange because even the characters who appear in the background the only explanation I can see for this is that the film was shot in a primarily “white” area.

My experience of the festival was a little lackluster aside from the presentation that occurred before the film it just seemed like a normal trip to the movies, I didn’t find anything about it very memorable. Although I must say that the speech made before the movie really put me into a proper mindset to enjoy the film and really understand the issues that it presented.

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4 Comments

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  1. I thought the analysis was easy to understand because you elaborated on each of the terms you used and the explanations you provided. The analysis gave us a good idea of how Len and Phil interacted in the movie and the underlying motivators in their lives. It was interesting how you mentioned the idea of how Dean Francis is changing the concept of othering and glorifying accepting who you are no matter what sexuality.

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  2. I found that your depiction of Len’s progression towards understanding his sexuality was relatable. I had a very close friend in high school who came out in our first year of university. Throughout the course of our friendship, he tried to embody many strong, male gender stereotypes (some of which you have described in relation to Len). I was so relieved for him when he discovered who he was and wanted to be, and I felt a similar type of relief when you described Len’s story; that against the pressures of society/family/friends he was able to commit himself to being an individual, and embracing his sexuality. I appreciate the problems that you expressed having with the film, and I enjoyed reading your review.

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  3. I found your perception and analysis of the directors use of nonlinear narrative and parallels between Len and Phil to be very interesting and an essential part of the film. An absence of such techniques would leave the viewer oblivious to Len’s misguided views and the comparison to that of Phil’s. It was also interesting that you felt the film was flawed regarding its representation of race and gender, a similar flaw I witnessed in the film that I reviewed. Also great use of various terms covered in the course.

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  4. It is interesting to hear that ‘Drown’ lacked proper representation of differing gender and race as the movie I viewed, Out in the Night, did the exact opposite. Yet, as being from a dominantly white, upper-class community, it was extremely difficult for several of my close friends to come out in such an environment. Being a ‘man’ in our society is hard while being homosexual, though these two terms have nothing to do with each other. My close friend is the most ‘manly man’ I have ever met, but his sexuality prefers men.

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