This film set at the end of the 19th century, about a plucky English sailor who determines to be the first person to swim across the channel, is certainly handsomely done for what one assumes is a fairly modest budget. It evokes a nice sense of how the era might have looked, with its muscly moustachioed hero of the title (played by former boxer Warren Brown) being tutored in his task by a swimming showman (Steve Oram in the most entertaining turn of the film) and his far more competent daughter Agnes (Georgia Maguire). There’s some good use of its coastal locations and apparently it is filmed in the Channel for added authenticity. That said, despite some decent acting, it’s all fairly thin and the flashback structure, punctuating Webb’s epic swim with scenes that explain how he got there, feels a bit repetitive by the end. It also gets a bit jingoistic at times, especially during the rather belaboured showdown with a brash American showman, which is folded into a burgeoning love story between Webb and Agnes. Still, it’s fine entertainment for a slow Sunday afternoon, and there aren’t too many films out there about swimmers.
Director Justin Hardy | Writer Jemma Kennedy (based on the non-fiction book The Crossing: The Extraordinary Story of the First Man to Swim the English Channel by Kathy Watson) | Cinematographer Matthew Wicks | Starring Warren Brown, Steve Oram, Georgia Maguire | Length 87 minutes || Seen at home (DVD), London, Tuesday 4 August 2015