Swing Away (2016)

A troubled WPGA player goes home to Greece to try and refocus her life. There she meets a young player who helps her remember why she plays and to pay attention to herself and those around her.

Written by Paul Robert Lingas and Julia Wall, based on a story by George Elias Stephanopoulos and Paul Robert Lingas, and directed by Michael A. Nickles, Swing Away is a family-friendly, somewhat romantic comedy. It’s mostly about how Zoe has to go back “home” to find herself, her center, and then be able to grow as a person. It’s also about a little girl named Stella who learns to believe in herself and to fight for what she thinks is right. The film is as an empowering message for both ladies and does throw in a small romantic element, but it not the main story; it’s just merrily background fodder and feels like it was not even needed. Of course, it had to be added as our lead has to find love to fully find herself, which is somewhat annoying as she could have achieved basically the same result without the romance angle. Of course, this angle should bring in a few more viewers, so it’s understandable it was put in there. The way the story is built and how everything unfolds is rather predictable but it works nonetheless. This is not as much a sports film as it is a film about finding oneself, being empowered to do what one wants in life, and find happiness.

The cast is led by Shannon Elizabeth who seems to have left raunchy comedies and horror films behind in favor of a more Lifetime-movie slate. This is not something that is necessarily bad and here she shows she can handle her part and what it entails. In the part of the little girl she helps with her golf swing and who in turn helps her be a better person is Viktoria Miller who does well with the part and shows good talent and artistic choices in the part. She is a bit precocious and a lot of presence on screen. She may be the youngest cast member with lines, she holds her own with the more seasoned actors.

The cinematography by Yiannis Daskalothanasis is pretty and shows the locations well. It shows a side of Greece that is not just the typical white and blue houses by the ocean. It shows a more regular side of the country, a less tourist-y side, giving the film an almost extra character in the location. It’s picturesque and adorable while it still looks like Greece without having a very tourism ad atmosphere which works for the film and its story. It’s not about the location but about the characters, how they evolve, and how they connect. The location is important, but it’s not trying to sell the viewer this location.

Swing Away is a cute film with lots of charm, it has good examples for lead characters and a fairly typical bad guy who feels a bit like a cartoon. However, the parts of the film that do not include him are fun to watch and have some sweetness to them. This is definitely more a film about finding oneself than about sport, but that makes it that much more appealing for non-sports fan, particularly for those who are not into golf or watching golf. Of course, there are sports scenes but they are more about how the characters are changing or have changed than about the sports itself. Golf here could be changed for tennis or swimming and the film would remain mostly the same.