Adelaide Thermes Kane looks at Alan Corcoran’s and and Peter Grogan‘s intimate documentary Unsinkable.
Unsinkable is the story of Waterford man, Alan Corcoran and his journey to honour the memory of his father, Milo. Taking on the physically demanding task of swimming the length of Ireland, Alan raises funds for cancer and stroke charities. Naturally, this presents him with a multitude of difficulties, putting both body and mind to the test as he navigates the uncontrollable and ever-changing movements of the Irish sea – as well as his own grief.
Directed by Corcoran and Peter Grogan, this documentary jumps quickly into the action, showcasing the variety of physical challenges that Corcoran participates in. Through sport he has a strong connection with his father. A larger than life character, Milo had been President of the FAI and a respected figure in Irish football. Corcoran’s marathons and swimming challenges serve as an homage to Milo’s love of sport.
While initially top heavy, the pace of this film evens out once we get to Corcoran’s final attempt at the swim, making way for a cleaner narrative flow. This story becomes excruciatingly personal as Corcoran confronts the effect the loss of his father has on both himself and those closest to him.
For the most part Corcoran was the sole cameraman on his travels, which provides an intimate insight into his perspective. He opens up about his problems with his partner, Karolina Opavá, admitting there has been a strain on their relationship, a difficult topic that is deftly handled. Corcoran and Opavá speak honestly.
The tumultuous Irish Sea serves as a striking visual metaphor; the jaw-droppingly beautiful route he travels is dangerous. He faces disappointment as a swimmer as he grapples with the lack of control he has over conditions.
There’s a strong community spirit in Corcoran’s world and each problem is met with solutions and support from other swimmers and sailors. In the bid to honour Milo in a way that’s meaningful, Corcoran’s journey reaches an impasse. Can he complete his goal? At every turn, this documentary returns to the core subject: grief. Examining the existential and with striking views of the coast, this personal portrait utilises quiet intimacy to create a powerful account of Corcoran’s private and personal adventure.
Unsinkable is screening at a number of venues around Ireland and internationally.
Adelaide Thermes Kane is a writer, critic and co-creator of anfa collective. With a degree in English, media and cultural studies from IADT, Adelaide has worked with multiple film festivals across Ireland including the Galway Film Fleadh and Dublin International Film Festival. Follow the anfa instagram account here.