Water Lilies (France; 85 min.)

directed by: Céline Sciamma
starring: Pauline Acquart; Louise Blachère; Adele Haenel
Naissance des pieuvres

Michael says: "This lovely French film dives deep into the world of adolescent girls and budding sexuality. Marie watches from the outside, while her friend Floriane, and the object of her desire, Anne, perform and compete in the world of synchronized swimming. The relationships are all mixed up. Marie and Floriane are best friends. Floriane is enamored with the handsome François, who is wooing Anne, a sexually developed ‘Lolita’ whom the other girls think is a slut. Marie can’t keep her eyes off of Anne, and manages to befriend her and get beneath the disinterested façade she presents to the world. As Marie and Anne grow closer, Floriane begins to feel left out. The hormones and emotions are running rampant, a chaotic counterpoint to the regimented routines performed in the swimming pool.

"First-time feature director Céline Sciamma, wonderfully captures the burgeoning sexuality of fifteen-year old girls, all of whom are in radically different stages of development, both physical and emotional. She touches on themes of alienation, body image, precociousness, the male gaze, and incipient crushes masterfully while spinning out a strong story. It was also refreshing to see a cast of characters who actually looked and acted like the ages they were representing. The three leads were all terrific. Pauline Acquart handles Marie’s same-sex crush with the maturity of someone far older, yet the drama of adolescence. Adele Haenel is all flailing arms, Rubenesque flesh, and child-like expressions as the awkward Floriane. Louise Blachère captures Anne’s ‘Lolita’ quality with sublime perfection. Depending on the camera angles, she appears as a young girl of emerging beauty, or a seductress five years older, her pouty lips and glazed, bored expression soon to be captured in fashion magazines worldwide. Her personality ripples through changes effortlessly, confiding her secrets to Marie then treating her the same as all the boys who pant for her.

"WATER LILLIES may make some people a little uncomfortable with its frank examination of emerging sexuality in teen-aged girls, but Sciamma certainly knows her subject and isn’t afraid to expose it for the viewer. 4 cats."

Beth C. says: "WATER LILIES is one of the best 'coming of age' films I have ever seen. I think the film did an excellent job drawing the personalities of the main characters, two girls, each belonging to two, very different, incompatible school cliques. The filmmaker succeeded in communicating the turmoil felt by the younger girl, Marie who has a desperate crush on the older girl, Floriane. In addition, the film captures the conflict within Floriane, felt by her need to retain her well-achieved place in the in-crowd which exists in direct opposition to the warm and devoted feelings she finds she has for Marie. I loved how the film narrated the girls' struggles. Although we watch both girls change through their experiences, the best thing about the film is that it always stays true to the inner reality of each character. Beautiful, beautiful film. 5 cats"