Water Lilies (Naissance Des Pieuvres) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/03/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

Sharply observed, impressively directed and emotionally engaging coming-of-age drama with superb performances from its three young leads.

What's it all about?
Water Lilies is the debut feature by French director Celine Sciamma. It's set in the Parisian suburbs, where the town's local swimming pool is the centre of attention for three 15-year-old girls: boyish Marie (Pauline Acquart), who's obsessed with the synchronised swimming team; her chubby best friend Anne (Louise Blachere), who has a crush on water polo player Francois (Warren Jacquin), because he accidentally saw her naked in the locker room; and Francois' gorgeous girlfriend Florian (Adele Haenel), the leader of the swimming team, who cultivates a reputation as a slut.

Over the course of the summer, Marie becomes captivated by Florian and as the two grow closer, she neglects her friendship with Anne as a result. Meanwhile, Anne doggedly pursues Francois, though Florian's true desires are somewhat harder to fathom.

The Good
The script is extremely well observed, perfectly capturing the various agonies and ecstasies of adolescent crushes and friendships. It's also remarkably perceptive in places and isn't afraid to go off in unusual directions – as a result, the film contains at least one scene that you probably won't have seen before.

The performances are terrific: Pauline Acquart is extraordinary as Marie, expertly portraying the transition from innocence to experience, while Louise Blachere is both funny and heart-breaking as Anne, managing to generate sympathy for her character even as her behaviour grows more unpredictable. In addition, Haenel is perfectly cast as the beautiful, enigmatic Florian, captivating everyone around her.

The Great
The film is beautifully shot (courtesy of cinematographer Crystel Fournier) and there are some stunning underwater sequences. Sciamma also uses sound to impressive effect, particularly when filming scenes from Marie's point of view.

Worth seeing?
Water Lilies is a beautifully made, thoroughly enjoyable coming of age film that marks Celine Sciamma out as a talent to watch. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Water Lilies (Naissance Des Pieuvres) (15)
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Content updated: 23/07/2018 01:28

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