Camera ObscuraCulture

Camera Obscura: Le grand bain

By June 20, 2019 No Comments

‘Asquare will never fit into a circle’. The opening line of Le grand bain, a movie by French director Gilles Lellouche, seems like a plea for normality: please don’t stray from the path, please follow the same rules as everyone else does and, most of all, please do not think you can be anything special.

The movie introduces us to Bertrand, a middle aged man who has been stuck at home with a depression for two years, adds Prozac to his breakfast cereals and is addicted to Candy Crush. When bringing his daughter to swimming class he notices a group of men practising in the pool, whilst a pretty blonde woman reads them poetry. Bertrand joins their synchronised swimming club and finds himself a new therapy group in his swimming team, as all of them seem to be stuck in some sort of midlife crisis. Le grand bain being a feelgood movie, it does not come as a surprise that the petty pack of outcasts becomes better and better at synchronised swimming and eventually even signs up for the world championship. This grants all of them the medal they could use, as wisely said by their trainer Delphine.

Beneath the story of a group of lost men finding a purpose in life, the movie also shows us a group of men taking on what is normally considered to be a female sport. Bertrand and his team land themselves in the world of synchronized swimming, and by doing so they take up a space traditionally filled by women. In the beginning of the movie Delphine tells the team to ‘find the girl within them’ which is met with a firm ‘I don’t have one,’ illustrating that they need to get used to this idea of practising a female sport. Le grand bain serves us some non-stereotypical gender roles. The strong characters in this movie are portrayed by women: take for example Delphine, coaching a team of depressed men and Claire, taking care of her husband Bertrand and their children.

We follow the men as they deal with the hardships life has in store for them, but this does not feel like the most important lesson to be taken from the movie. Even though they all find themselves at an all time low at the beginning of the movie, we see them get back on their feet slowly but steadily. The real clue to be taken from this story is that doing things out of your comfort zone can prove to be very valuable.

Despite being ridiculed by their friends and families, the men start taking pride in the swimming as the movie progresses. The ‘feminine’ sport unifies them and gives them something to live for, showing us that it can’t hurt for a man to pursue an activity typically performed by women. Due to their hard-
fought belief in what they do, they gain support from their loved ones and even get awarded for their swimming act at the world championship. Wrapped up in a funny feelgood ambiance, Le grand bain tells us that it might not be all that bad to at times fit the square into the circle.

Director: Gilles Lellouche

This movie is out now in a cinema near you.

‘Asquare will never fit into a circle’. The opening line of Le grand bain, a movie by French director Gilles Lellouche, seems like a plea for normality: please don’t stray from the path, please follow the same rules as everyone else does and, most of all, please do not think you can be anything special.

The movie introduces us to Bertrand, a middle aged man who has been stuck at home with a depression for two years, adds Prozac to his breakfast cereals and is addicted to Candy Crush. When bringing his daughter to swimming class he notices a group of men practising in the pool, whilst a pretty blonde woman reads them poetry. Bertrand joins their synchronised swimming club and finds himself a new therapy group in his swimming team, as all of them seem to be stuck in some sort of midlife crisis. Le grand bain being a feelgood movie, it does not come as a surprise that the petty pack of outcasts becomes better and better at synchronised swimming and eventually even signs up for the world championship. This grants all of them the medal they could use, as wisely said by their trainer Delphine.

Beneath the story of a group of lost men finding a purpose in life, the movie also shows us a group of men taking on what is normally considered to be a female sport. Bertrand and his team land themselves in the world of synchronized swimming, and by doing so they take up a space traditionally filled by women. In the beginning of the movie Delphine tells the team to ‘find the girl within them’ which is met with a firm ‘I don’t have one,’ illustrating that they need to get used to this idea of practising a female sport. Le grand bain serves us some non-stereotypical gender roles. The strong characters in this movie are portrayed by women: take for example Delphine, coaching a team of depressed men and Claire, taking care of her husband Bertrand and their children.

We follow the men as they deal with the hardships life has in store for them, but this does not feel like the most important lesson to be taken from the movie. Even though they all find themselves at an all time low at the beginning of the movie, we see them get back on their feet slowly but steadily. The real clue to be taken from this story is that doing things out of your comfort zone can prove to be very valuable.

Despite being ridiculed by their friends and families, the men start taking pride in the swimming as the movie progresses. The ‘feminine’ sport unifies them and gives them something to live for, showing us that it can’t hurt for a man to pursue an activity typically performed by women. Due to their hard-
fought belief in what they do, they gain support from their loved ones and even get awarded for their swimming act at the world championship. Wrapped up in a funny feelgood ambiance, Le grand bain tells us that it might not be all that bad to at times fit the square into the circle.

Director: Gilles Lellouche

This movie is out now in a cinema near you.

Annabel Simjouw

Author Annabel Simjouw

Annabel Simjouw (1994) studies Clinical Forensic Psychology and writes about art for Spiegeloog. Besides visiting musea she likes to read and cook, combining this into bookclub nights with friends.

More posts by Annabel Simjouw