Highly strung socialite Amber (Madonna) and her husband Tony (Bruce Greenwood) go on a private cruise from Greece to Italy with some friends. Deeply unimpressed, Amber makes the life of the ship’s crew miserable and takes an instant disliking to the ship’s first mate Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini). The two are forced together on a dinghy and get lost at sea, washing up on a deserted island. Once stranded alone together, the two realise they may not hate each other as much as they’d previously thought.
Swept Away was released in 2002 and it critically-mauled on its release. A remake of Lina Wertmüller’s 1974 film of the same name, Swept Away teamed up superstar Madonna with her then husband filmmaker Guy Ritchie. At the box office the film was a total disaster and it proved to be Madonna’s last attempt at being a leading lady on the big screen. Swept Away was a big departure for Ritchie too, moving away from the guns and violence of his big films Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. The original Swept Away is considered an Italian classic and it’s interesting to note that Giannini is the son of Giancarlo Giannini who played Gennarino in the original film.
The film’s failure was largely, and unfairly, blamed on Madonna. Her performance, while not exactly Oscar-worthy, isn’t as bad as the critics said at the time. She starts off a little ropey and goes OTT in the first half an hour as Amber’s demands spiral but once she’s off the ship and on the island with Adriano Giannini’s Giuseppe, she warms into the role. There are some nice moments Madonna manages to bring to the table when the roles between the two characters are reversed.
The film’s real downfall is the terrible script. None of the actors are served well by a very under-developed film that fails at balancing humour and drama. You get the impression that Ritchie wasn’t able to direct, or write for, his then wife and that shows throughout the film. The pacing of the story is all over the place and the inevitable romance between Amber and Giuseppe doesn’t feel authentic. One minute he’s borderline threatening to rape her, then the two are making love like teenagers.
The Blu-ray release at least brings the beautiful island setting to life with a colourful and eye-catching transfer. The disc also includes a selection of deleted scenes with optional audio commentaries.
Swept Away isn’t a great film nor is it as bad as the critics would have you believe. If anything it’s distinctly average and hampered by lots of problems. Madonna has proven she can act (her best performance to date is Evita) but she is underserved and I suspect under-directed here. Regardless of her performance, the film’s choppy pacing and poor script pull it down, and sadly Swept Away never rises above mediocre.
Cast: Madonna, Bruce Greenwood, Adriano Giannini, Elizabeth Banks, Jeanne Tripplehorn Director: Guy Ritchie Writer: Guy Ritchie Certificate: 15 Duration: 89 mins Released by: Fabulous Films Release date: 22nd April 2019 Buy Swept Away