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Film

The Song of Sway Lake is the Nostalgic Lakeside Romance You Always Wanted

Song of Sway Lake Official Poster (2018)

Written by Cole Wissinger
The Song of Sway Lake review was originally posted on IndieEntertainmentMagazine.com
October 25, 2017

When you collect something you want it to be perfect. Pristine. This counts for Beanie Babies, Star Wars action figures, and comic books. Well, a lot of nerdy things.

Rory Culkin’s character Ollie Sway is such a nerdy collector. His possessions of choice are old records. One summer he sets out with his new best friend to steal his late father’s most cherished album, a ’78 cut of Sway Lake, from his family estate. The best friend is also a fatherless young man, Nikolai from Russia, played by the effortlessly charismatic Robert Sheehan.

When they make it to the lake side cabin, their seemingly simple task takes a turn as they meet people that will complicate their relationship and convictions. The record is eventually found, but they are different young men that hear it than they were when they set out.

The Song of Sway Lake is buoyed by the chemistry between its two stars.

The youngest Culkin brother is known for his performances in Signs and Scream 4. Irish-born but Russian accent professional Robert Sheehan from Misfits, Cherrybomb, and this year’s Geostorm have such a believable on-screen friendship.

Ollie feels a little overshadowed by Nikolai’s exuberance and way with the ladies. Meanwhile Nikolai is insecure in other ways. He seeks a family and history to cling to. The longer they stay together at the lake the more Nikolai inserts himself into the Sway family.

For an orphan it should be understandable that he is seeking to belong.

Ollie and Nikolai in 2017's The Song of Sway Lake
If you and your best mate don’t end a Friday night like this, are you really living your best life?

Their friendship is interrupted by their relationships with the other two main characters of the story. Ollie’s grandmother is sick of the noise that has come to her precious lake where she fell in love. She and Ollie never saw eye to eye and her entrance to her own house puts some urgency to their search for the record. Slowing down that same search is Isandora, a local girl that Ollie falls for. Their relationship allows Ollie to see that everyone deserves love.

The movie tells us that all young people know the song of Sway Lake, but I didn’t, so I looked it up.

Sway Lake is just one of many beautiful original songs written for the movie by the director Ari Gold’s twin brother Ethan Gold. They are convincingly composed in a 1940’s style that belongs on records; scratches and hiccups and all. The score behind the visuals adds to the nostalgic theme of the movie.

It is a beautifully shot movie that allows lighting to blur the lines between dreams and memories. The lake is as main of a character as any of the people, and the underwater scenes are remarkable.

The lake as seen in Song of Sway Lake (2017).
And it may be the best looking character tbh. No offense Rory.

The Song of Sway Lake is a lush romantic drama about the young and the old coming together. The young Ollie has a greater connection to records than his elderly grandma who constantly refers to him as the DJ when he picks a song; a fairly young colloquialism.

The Russian character Nikolai is constantly using American war vernacular when referring to looking for the record or looking for women. He also becomes obsessed with Ollie’s dead grandpa and the romantic story between him and the grandma.

Despite differences that arise between the friends, they prove to have each other’s back. They also learn that their relationships in life don’t have to be the same. They can love different kinds of people for different reasons.

That love isn’t going to be perfect like it seems in songs or old stories, but that’s okay. Nostalgia only seems perfect from hindsight, and for record collector Ollie, it is summed up perfectly when he tells Isandora that we don’t have to be perfect.

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And if you’re like us and into this kinda thing, here’s a whole bunch of awards it was selected for and/or won.
Awards selections and wins for Song of Sway Lake (2017).
It causes one to wonder, “Who give these things out anyways? And what are their criteria?”

Speaking of Award-winning, check out Estonia’s record-breaking and award-winning WWII film, 1944.

It’s like a lakeside nostalgic romance, but with tanks and airplanes.
No lakes.
Just trenches.
And machine guns.
So it’s nothing like The Song of Sway Lake.
Click it anyways.