The film follows Len (Matt Levett), a lifesaving champion, whose life gets turned upside down with the arrival of the younger, fitter and faster Phil (Jack Matthews).
Len’s confused feelings for Phil cause him to react violently and when Phil wins the annual Sidney Lifesaving competition, Len starts to wonder the truth of his identity.
As these feelings develop, violence becomes a language Len uses to express his attraction to Phil which inevitably begins the spiral of self-loathing that culminates in his destruction.
The film begins with a voice over narration that starts to develop a character that we have not even met yet.
After the opening scene we soon learn that the character Len is the one speaking during the voice overs.
The voice over technique is a prominent feature throughout DROWN and it does allow the audience to get a real sense of the failing mind set of Len and we get a clear idea that he is struggling to come to terms with his own identity.
To add to the crucial, struggled mind of Len the corresponding psychological music helps to reinforce the decline in his mental stability.
Upon first viewing, I was initially sceptical about it and it seemed to be a ‘straight falling for a gay’ movie but the added psychological element made the film a deeper and more truthful production.
The script is not great and there are times where the film borders on cringey yet trying to take your eyes off the screen is difficult.
The concept of homophobia, homosexuality and homoeroticism are constantly reinforced through the use of countless close-ups of male, semi-nude bodies both on land and underwater, as well as the slow motion shots of the swim suited men.
By utilising these elements and techniques, director, Dean Francis, creates a truthful, sad and homoerotic movie and these techniques help to develop the feelings Len has towards Phil.
Despite the script and acting not being overly great and sometimes slightly melodramatic, the film takes on themes that relate to everyday life.
Homosexuality in sporting events, or lack of, can be seen to be pushed to the forefront in DROWN with the gay character of Phil hiding his own true identity from his colleagues.
Levett’s performance as the struggled Len is initially not great but as the narrative progressed it becomes evident that his mental stability and his effort to find his own identity are effecting his life and Levett’s way of creating this fragile character is worth a watch.
Through the use of flashback sequences throughout the entire film, we clearly can see an inevitably downfall in Len’s mind and this feature creates a sort of story spoken by Len.
Homophobia and violent bullying are prominent features and parts of the film are hard to watch due to the intensity and tension that has been built up through the camerawork and the narration.
DROWN, which is an adaptation from a play of the same name by Stephen Davis, is undoubtedly an homoerotic, shocking and intense psychological drama.