Big River Man

complex times require complex heroes

“Big River Man” tracks Mr. Strel’s improbable 2007 conquest of the Amazon, which began in Peru on Feb. 1 and ended 66 event-and-parasite-filled days later in Brazil on April 7. For more than two months Mr. Strel, then 53, and his retinue — along with the director John Maringouin — churned through 3,274 miles of river on an adventure that crossed national and psychological borders and often seemed downright absurd if not entirely pointless. Mr. Strel liked to say he was swimming the Amazon in order to protect the rain forest, even if, as his son, Borut, freely says mid-excursion, “No one knew exactly what the hell he meant by that.” But as the self-help books say, it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination. - Manohla Dargis, New York Times

An odd and irresistible documentary about Slovenian strongman Martin Strel and his quest, at 52, to be the first man to swim 5,268 kilometers of the Amazon River. - Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail

The real drama lies in the sweetly twisted symbiosis between this likable, infuriating wreck of a man and his devoted son and publicist. - Ella Taylor, Village Voice