Goodness knows, Strel's son has plenty of it. He's his dad's biggest booster, as well as his second mate, and he pops in and out of the film -- which is all over the place consistently (even the credits don't show up for a good fifteen minutes). Strel himself is all over the place, too: swimming, toning up in the gym, playing his Flamenco guitar, gambling (he's a pro), dining with the Slovenian elite and being, well, fat. He readily admits he's fat -- way too fat to be a champion endurance swimmer. But he is. And he does look
great in a dark suit.
Once the swim begins, the movie grows more fantastic -- in all meanings of the word. Strel goes bananas in increments, as does his navigator/friend, though his son keeps his sanity pretty well (these two appear to be his only crew, except a doctor who shows up occasionally to take blood pressure and check for parasites and such). The swimmer gets so sunburned that he must wear a facial mask, giving him a kind of Friday the 13th, Jason-in-the-Amazon look. Villagers and Indians come out on the docks to meet and greet him, and he presses on and on, even as his health appears to fail, his blood pressure skyrockets and colon problems ensue. Or do they? The guy ought to be dead by now.
Big River Man, from the distribution company salt., opens Friday, December 4, at the IFC Center. The performance schedule, including an Q&A appearance by director Maringouin, is here.