Dive: Pregnancy threatens an Irish swimmer’s Olympic dreams

Review: The film's rough charm and performances distract from its underlying polemic

Vanessa Schaeffer seizes her opportunity and makes a fully fleshed human of the title character.

Film Title: Dive

Director: Daniel Holmes

Starring: Vanessa Schaeffer, Emmet Ryan

Genre: Drama

Running Time: 85 min

Thu, May 17, 2018, 06:00

   

Arriving just in time to enlighten and inform, Daniel Holmes’s modestly budgeted drama highlights the pressures imposed on Irish women seeking abortion in the first half of 2018 (and possibly beyond). It’s a humble sort of film. But it has a sincerity and focus that argues for attention.

Vanessa Schaeffer plays Tara, a young swimmer whose chances of an Olympic spot are threatened when she discovers that she is pregnant. As is so often the case, she feels unable to talk to family and can only confide in similarly broke friends. An encounter with a young man (Emmett Ryan), apparently distraught after his young daughter has been taken away to Amsterdam, provides her with support and encouragement. The two soon realise that they have a common cause.

The picture is very clear in its laying out of the mechanics of the current arrangement. None other than Tara Flynn, a prominent figure in the Repeal campaign, turns up as a sympathetic pregnancy adviser tied down by the State’s cruel and eccentric legislation. “It feels like everything’s been turned off . . . I’m on autopilot,” a troubled Schaeffer tells her. She learns that it will cost about €1,000 to travel and have the procedure; no small sum for a woman of that age.

Vanessa Schaeffer inhabits the role of a young swimmer whose chances of an Olympic spot are threatened when she discovers that she is pregnant.
Vanessa Schaeffer inhabits the role of a young swimmer whose chances of an Olympic spot are threatened when she discovers that she is pregnant.

There is little question that Dive is driven by an agenda. But its rough charm and the cleanness of its performances help distract from the underlying polemic. Schaeffer grabs the opportunity and makes a fully fleshed human of the title character. The circling cast are equally strong in a film developed by the innovative Feature Film School. Good luck to all who sail in it.