Thursday, January 2, 2020

Movie with Abe: Aquarela

Directed by Viktor Kosakovskiy
Released August 16, 2019

Water is a pretty big part of the planet, and it factors into the daily lives of nearly every person on earth. Drinking it is necessary for survival, and it also makes up a good portion of all that we consume. It takes up the space between the land formations where people live, and allows humans to swim within it where temperature permits. It’s something many people take for granted, an incredible phenomenon that affects us in tremendous ways yet is often merely something that we look at and fail to appreciate for the wonder that it is.

“Aquarela,” one of the fifteen films shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Documentary, takes a look at just how magnificent water is, along with its other form, ice. Various scenes from all around the world are shown that feature water and ice simply existing, sometimes remaining still and at others erupting violently into something unpredictable and even frightening, uncontrollable and absolutely captivating. This is a truly international production, one that journeys all across the globe to see just how universal water can be, recognizable in every location and yet unique at the same time.

There are few people to be found in this film and even sparser dialogue, and what’s being uttered is almost unimportant. It’s the water itself that serves as the main character, which is definitely a unique cinematic approach. That style and format definitely make this film a challenge to access, since it isn’t inherently thrilling to watch water move and ice melt. It’s definitely slow at times, yet there is an undeniable power to the gradual transformation that allows this film’s subject to truly astound, demonstrating an astonishing power gleaned from the mere act of watching water be water.

Regardless of the way that this film occasionally manages to showcase such effective drama and excitement from training its lens on nature, the eighty-nine minutes it runs is certainly longer than necessary. This is a film that might have more potent had it been constructed as a short film, since the material doesn’t exactly make the case for a feature-length production. It’s hardly the strongest documentary of the year, but one that does manage to achieve what it sets out to do: to capture the incomparable quality and beauty of something that every person encounters and benefits from each and every day.


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