La Piscina (The Swimming Pool)

n other films the swimming pool is often the site for elegant and hedonistic romps and a bit of la dolce vita. In La Piscina it’s a place of humble charm. A summer’s day breaks on the coast and young swimming instructor Esteban, an introverted ex-professional swimmer, waits for his pupils to arrive. The four teenagers have one thing in common: their disabilities have made outsiders of them all. One-legged Diana is flirty and possessive; Dany is overweight and has Down’s syndrome; weak-willed Rodrigo has a walking disability; and permanently grumpy Oscar flatly refuses to speak. One tender, carefree day of the holidays runs its course. In between their sojourn at the pool the group snacks together and enjoys a siesta. Slowly, however, conflict within the group begins to make itself apparent until the idyllic tropical scene is filled with animosity, rivalries, jibes, aggression, power games and an unspoken mutual longing for love. La Piscina paints this group portrait in delicate pastel colours, laconically, with deliberate and hypnotic pacing. [Courtesy of Berlinale]