August 1, 2008
MOVIE REVIEW ; `Water Lilies’ Soaked in Cliches
By JAMES VERNIERE
Rated R. In French with subtitles. At Kendall Square Cinema.
If high school were a French movie, it'd be "Water Lilies," a portrait of sexual angst in the underage-girl set.
Watch a sex siren perform aqua-acrobatics and her sullen suitor pout for 80-odd minutes, or don't.
Written and directed by Celine Sciamma and featured in the prestigious New Directors/New Films series in New York City last spring, the film is a thorough disappointment.
Marie (Pauline Acquart) is this tale's heroine, a young woman whose swollen lips belie her beanpole figure. Marie is wracked by sapphic longing for the fatuous captain of the water ballet squad Floriane (Adele Haenel), a curvy sexpot and school "slag." Marie's best friend is chubby loser Anne (Louise Blachere), a shoplifter who'd give anything to get the handsome jock Francois (Warren Jacquin) to give her a tumble.
The cast members, especially Acquart and Haenel, have no chemistry, and the water ballet scenes are badly staged. Marie just follows Floriane from rendezvous to rendezvous like a sad little puppy. Anne, meanwhile, does "daft" things when Marie is not around. The jocks, for their part, attend a school dance wearing girls' underwear as face masks. Quelle drole.
Even at 80 minutes, this goes on for too long. It's junior league Catherine Breillat ("Fat Girl,""Sex Is Comedy"). Turns out these bad girls aren't even bad; they're just misunderstood. Is such a hoary, teen-movie cliche more acceptable because it's subtitled?
So many subtitled films have been boxed out of the American marketplace, one can't help but wonder why this one snuck past. Undoubtedly, it has something to do with all those lithe, flashing, teenage limbs in the pool and the locker rooms.
("Water Lilies" contains sexual situations, nudity and profanity.)
Originally published by By JAMES VERNIERE.
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