The Song of Sway Lake, written by Ari Gold and Elizabeth Bull and directed by Ari Gold, premiered at the LA Film Festival on June 21st. The film follows the story of the Sways and their lake. The film is kicked off by the suicide of Charlie Sway’s (played beautifully by Mary Beth Peil) son. Charlie’s grandson Ollie (Rory Culkin) believes that it is his duty to find a rare 78 record, “The Song of Sway Lake,” hidden somewhere in the house on Sway Lake. Ollie has struggled with the death of his father and his failing relationship with his grandmother, so he enlists a friend to help him out on his mission of stealing the record. The friend that he enlists, Nikolai (Robert Sheehan), is a robust Russian with lots of character. Along the way, Nikolai falls for Charlie, the family matriarch and Ollie catches feelings for a townie; the two of them setting out on this quest to find the record, while always an important plot point, falls to become the back burner to much more things happening.
My first impression of the film was that it was absolutely beautiful; it was beautifully shot and well put together with a dreamlike soundtrack. My second impression was that it was unlike anything that I had seen at the festival thus far. The film has much more layers than it appears to have on the surface. The water in the lake seems to represent different things for each character, as well as each character themselves representing different things: Nikolai, who is stuck in perfect past he seems to have missed, Ollie, who wants nothing more than to erase the past, and Charlie, who seems to be frozen in her past.
Apart from its beautiful visuals, many performances stood out. Robert Sheehan gave a very convincing performance as Nikolai, although his roots are Irish. Where with any other performer it may have been seen as over done, somehow Sheehan’s overall demand of the screen just works. He found the perfect balance between over the top and moderate and sat in it. Nikolai’s strange and mesmerizing relationship with Charlie was a strong pulling point of movie, while Ollie’s reluctance to have a working relationship with his grandmother after his father’s suicide was just the right amount of heartbreaking.
Overall, the film was a nice experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and you can go here to add yourself to a list to check out screenings near you.