Stark Contrasts: Our Review of ‘Drinkwater’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 14, 2022
Stark Contrasts: Our Review of ‘Drinkwater’

It took more than a year from Drinkwater to go from film festivals all over British Columbia to limited national theatrical release. A few hundred words later, you can find out why. Its titular character Mike Drinkwater (Daniel Doheny) is too cute to be Penticton, BC’s second generation town loser. But Doheny, to his credit does his best to flesh out such a character. A new girl, Wallace Owens (Louriza Tronco) moves from NYC to Penticton, next door to Mike. And one of the first things they do together is stalk Mike’s crush Danny Owens (Chloe Babcook).

Mike represents half of teen protagonists in films in that they have a lot of goals. Other than wanting to end up dating the girl he’s stalking, he wants to win a cross country race to pay for college. In other words, he wants to stop being the town loser. Drinkwater goes halfway into showing how much of a loser he is. And most of that effort comes from another character – his father Hank (Eric McCormack). Hank peaked when he was the backup goalie at his local high school. Looking at it from Mike’s perspective, it’s hard getting out of that generational cycle of loser-dom.

There’s a stark contrast between the promotional stills of Drinkwater and the actual film. The former has the texture of small town, working class Canadiana. Meanwhile, the latter has this gloss that probably doesn’t have the same effect as its intention. It’s understandable to depict a small town like it’s a love letter but some scenes the final product feels too like an impersonal wine ad. It’s also shocking to find out that director Stephen S. Campanelli worked with Clint Eastwood because that doesn’t translate in the aesthetic. The film’s look is as bad as the script with characters who are basically archetypes.

Mike and Wallace’s friendship isn’t believable and it’s equally unbelievable that she only hangs out with him to get away from her well meaning grandparents. A sane girl would not put up with a guy would leaves her mid hang-out to hang out with another girl he’s stalking. When Drinkwater doesn’t show these terrible scenes, there’s a montage of them training together or Mike training alone. The orchards of Penticton look beautifully glossy, again, but other things distract from that beauty. The film uses a late 20th century soundtrack as background to this Gen-Z story and that mix feels sloppy.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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