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Childhood fears appear very differently through the eyes of a child than to those on the sideline observing. The Swimming Lesson is an exploration of that fear.

Filmmaker Olivia Boudreau brings us into the world of a seven-year-old, showing us the insurmountable fear that can come from seemingly ordinary events. Boudreau establishes her young character’s point of view right off the top, with camera angles situated at her eye level. We see mom and other adults looming large, and children at her height.

Boudreau is also careful in her storytelling, depicting a complex sense of insecurity, but never at a level of sophistication that pulls us away from the protagonist. The events in front of our eyes are nothing unusual, but slight distortions in sound and camera angles are enough to make us feel off-balance and mildly distraught. Boudreau does an excellent job of getting the audience inside a child’s head while appealing to our senses.

The Swimming Lesson is told on a sensory, rather than narrative, level, despite having a very clearly defined story.