“AQUARELA”: H2O Wallpaper
My rating: (Opens Sept. 27 at the Studio 28) 89 minutes | MPAA rating: PG
Published September 26, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene
Technically classified as a documentary, “Aquarela” might more accurately be described as slow-moving wallpaper.
The subject of Viktor Kossakovsky’s film is water and its power. There is no narrator, no graphics, no argument made or thesis stated.
The film’s first 20 minutes unfold on a frozen bay in Greenland where a team of rescue workers use primitive muscle-powered winches to extract from the frigid waters automobiles that have broken through the ice. During the winter local drivers use the frozen bay as a shortcut, but as spring approaches this becomes an iffy proposition.
One man, soaking wet and frantic after his car has vanished, taking with it his passenger, is asked why he risked it. He responds that the ice isn’t supposed to melt for another three weeks.
That’s as close as “Aquarela” comes to making an overt statement about global warming.
We get long passages of vivid blue glaciers calving, creating mountainous icebergs that dwarf the ships which share their waters. Marine photography reveals the abstract beauty of bergs below the water line.
Another segment unfolds aboard a yacht where the swells and storms create a terrifying environment.
There are spectacular jungle cataracts that generate their own misty rainbows, and news footage of hurricane-force winds lashing coastal cities and flooding streets. Monster waves charging ashore.
Some of this is spectacular, some beautiful.
But isn’t this lazy documentary-making? How about some insight, some perspective?
Some viewers will find “Aquarela’s” glacial pace and gorgeous imagery hypnotically compelling.
Others will find in it a surefire cure for insomnia.
Place me somewhere in the middle.
| Robert W. Butler
Read the original review and more reviews at Butler’s Cinema Scene
Robert W. Butler for 41 years reviewed films for the Kansas City Star. In May 2011 he was downsized.
He couldn’t take the hint.
OKAY, so here’s the deal. I write mostly about movies. One good thing about no longer writing for the paper is that I’m free to ignore the big dumb Hollywood turkeys that don’t interest me. So don’t expect every blessed release to be written about here. Many films aren’t worth the effort. Besides, at my age it’s not the $8. It’s the two hours.
UPDATE: OCTOBER, 2014: Well, here’s an interesting twist. The Star wants me back as a freelance film reviewer!!! Apparently enough time has passed that they cannot be accused of firing me so that they can rehire me at a fraction of my original pay (I gather the federal government frowns upon that practice.) So from now on I will probably be reviewing a movie a week for the newspaper.