Streamline wastes the talents of Levi Miller with a generic, surface-level exploration of swimming under pressure. Aesthetically, the movie is well-made, stylistically teeming with a bluish color scheme, and attractive young bodies rippling with abs. The talent amassed behind the scenes promises a sports drama that rises above the mistakes of the genre. It is truly a shame, then, when Streamline ultimately feels like a rushed misfire that only gets to the goods in the closing moments. By then, it is is simply too little too late to leave any sort of lasting impression.
With his 16th birthday on the horizon, young Ben (Levi Miller) is gearing up for trials that could be a precursor to an Olympic run in swimming. Ben’s coach (Robert Morgan) believes more than anything that Ben is destined for greatness. The coach pushes Ben to his limits in a way that reminded me of JK Simmon’s tyrannical character in Whiplash. Either way, it seems that Ben’s best interests are at heart. Ben’s father, Rob’s (Jason Isaacs), impending release from prison spells instant trouble for Ben. Almost immediately, Ben’s grades start dropping, he is picking fights at school, and the influence of Ben’s rudderless, delinquent brothers begin to have over him is palpable.
From first-time director Tyson Wade Johnston, Streamline does carry with it a distinctly Australian point of view that sets it apart from the various clones of this near-exact type of sports drama storyline. This does not mean it completely ditches any sense of cliche, but that merely said cliche has a very different kind of flavor. As Ben’s behavior begins negatively affecting all of those around him, Streamline morphs into something of a coming-of-age flick.
For a movie that claims to be all about the relationship between Ben and his father, the viewer does not get more than a passing glance into their living, breathing interactions. It is also barely focused on Ben’s swimming career. By diverting focus in opposite directions, the throughline of Streamline is hard to follow, and occasionally equally hollow to its lead character, Ben, and his inability to convey emotion.
The acting on deck is excellent, mainly from Levi Miller. He has come a long way since his Peter Pan days, evident in the sheer power of Ben’s eventual emotional release. Jason Isaacs, who is somehow never bad in anything, is great despite only appearing in a handful of scenes. The issues and faults alone mainly lie in the script. It feels far too sparse in its efforts to tell a captivating story. A film’s final ten minutes should not feel as if the audience is rushing in the direction of an alleged ending, nor should a vital aspect of the conclusion be conveyed only through the closing credits. Every ingredient for success was present, yet Streamline cannot commit to its ideas or trust its talented actors enough to pull off a captivating drama.
Streamline swims for the gold when it heads to Video on Demand and Digital on Friday, February 18th.