Directed by Alki David. UK. 2004.

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Alki David wrote, directed and stars in Freediver. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he also made the tea between takes. He plays the part of Hector who literally by accident plucks Danai Varveri (Camilla Rutherford) from obscurity to become a world champion free diver.

The sport involves diving to the greatest depth possible on one-breath with only the most basic equipment. The accompanying documentary about the making of the film shows that diving to depths of 95m (315 feet) is exceptionally dangerous even for experts. One of the main dangers is the bends, which is caused the separation of the gasses in your body. During the film production David himself suffered from the bends and had to spend 12 hours in a decompression chamber.

Alki David as Hector.Filmed on the Greek Island of Spetses, the story tells how Danai becomes a puppet of a medical institute who wants her to win a World record attempt in competition with Maggie (Dominque Swain) an American free diver who enjoys the limelight. The political machinations of the sport's governing body AIDA in the film puts it in a poor light, and in reality the organisation was not impressed with their depiction. Also, when the film was shown to free divers they apparently giggled at some of the technical flaws in the film. This seems to be a problem with most films when shown to 'experts' - I knew someone who always complained to me about the wrong badges and buttons worn by soldiers in movies. 

Fortunately, these complaints will wash over the head of most viewers. What we get is a beautifully shot film that shows the bravery and dedication required to push our bodies to the limit in an alien environment. Camilla Rutherford plays her part with ease as the young woman who falls in love with Hector yet has to go against his warnings to go for the world record. As Hector, Alki David, is charming and charismatic, and there's a good performance from James Fox as Sebastian Nagel.

It's good to see an underwater film with action and adventure that doesn't feature a shark.

The DVD is available from 22 September, 2005.

Nigel Watson
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