Hollow Spectacle: Our Review of ‘Aquarela’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 23, 2019
Hollow Spectacle: Our Review of ‘Aquarela’

Mother nature can be a vicious bitch…provided the context of course…

Aquarela is one of those unique cinematic experiences as it crafts a visual assault on the senses as we see something that reminds of how violently our world is falling apart but it’s a little too technically sound and impressive to allow for any emotion resonance with the issue that it is trying to get across.

Aquarela takes audiences on a deeply cinematic journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water. The film is a visceral wake-up call that humans are no match for the sheer force and capricious will of Earth’s most precious element. From the precarious frozen waters of Russia’s Lake Baikal to Miami in the throes of Hurricane Irma to Venezuela’s mighty Angel Falls, water is Aquarela’s main character, with director Victor Kossakovsky capturing her many personalities in startling cinematic clarity.

Making water as the subject of a documentary is a little tough but Aquarela is an interesting and visceral cinematic experience but it doesn’t hit home in a way that really generates any real emotional reaction.

Director Victor Kossakovsky undoubtedly puts us in the moment as we see glacier’s melt and the ice shelf shift with some beautiful footage shot at 96 frames per second set to a variety of different musical pieces from classical to speed metal but there’s no context.  Without context all we are watching is mother nature in full force.

Sure we understand the reasons behind the ice melting and the issues surrounding global warming all of which really do need to be addressed but this film only does that with its pictures.  The film needed a narrator or a talking head to actually tell us the effects of that huge piece of glacier we just saw falling into the ocean, or why this particular hurricane is happening?  Just watching it happen, while impressive, isn’t enough to generate the kind of emotionality that this film wants.

We’ll readily admit that there is some genuine brilliance in Aquarela as the jaw dropping photography which allows us as an audience to see mother nature in all her rage and glory is both awe inspiring and kind of humbling at the same time but it’s only something that resonates cinematically.  When it comes to the issues surrounding global warming, sure it’s important to show the raw power what can happen with global warming but it rarely managed to move the needle on a humanistic level.  There’s no doubt we’re supposed to be terrified but with the power of some well placed words to back it up, Aquarela is nothing more than a cavalcade of visually impressive photography of what mother nature can do, but it needed more of an actual story to let us know that these violent events of nature might be on our door step closer then we might expect them to be.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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