ALEX is an old-fashioned family film about a teenage girl who overcomes fierce competition and personal tragedy while struggling to make the 1960 New Zealand Olympic swimming team.
Expert swimmer Alex Archer (Lauren Jackson) is a six-foot-tall 15-year-old girl from Auckland who is training for the 1960 Olympics. After being beaten in a race by newcomer Maggie Benton (Catherine Godbold), Alex realizes that she'll have to work even harder to make the team. This may be harder
than Alex knows, since Maggie's scheming mother is busy currying favor with the head of the swimming federation. In the meantime, Alex breaks her leg while playing hockey and must sit out for two painful months recovering, while Maggie quickly become the new contender. Alex continues to train
after recovering, but loses to Maggie again in her first race. Soon afterward, Alex is shattered upon learning that her boyfriend Andy (Josh Picker) has been killed in a car accident. She responds by increasing her determination and rededicates herself to making the team for Andy.
Maggie and Alex go to the National Swimming Championships, which will determine which of the two is chosen for the Olympics. The night before the big race, Alex is so nervous she goes for a swim to relax. The next day, she's told by the judges that she's disqualified after someone reported that
she had a late-night tryst with the pool manager. Alex denies the allegation and accuses Maggie's mother of spreading malicious lies. The qualifying committee votes to allow Alex to participate, but she has already run away in shame. Just as the race is about to begin without her, Alex shows up.
After two false starts by Alex, Maggie jumps out to an early lead, but Alex makes up ground at the first turn and eventually wins the race.
ALEX is the kind of clean-cut, innocuous, "uplifting" tale of triumphing over adversity that usually shows up stateside as a TV-movie or "Afterschool Special." However, this 1993 production (released to US video in 1996) comes from a joint New Zealand-Australian venture and makes for adequate
diversion for its intended audience of prepubescent girls. Overall, ALEX has a sincere, unpretentious quality, and Lauren Jackson gives an appealing performance as the athletic lead, convincingly portraying Alex's struggles as a gawky, overgrown girl grappling with her emerging femininity.
Visually, the late '50s small-town atmosphere is nicely captured as are some of New Zealand's lovely beaches.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: ALEX is an old-fashioned family film about a teenage girl who overcomes fierce competition and personal tragedy while struggling to make the 1960 New Zealand Olympic swimming team. Expert swimmer Alex Archer (Lauren Jackson) is a six-foot-tall 15-year-old… (more)