Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Analeine Cal y Mayor's TREADING WATER is a rom-con about the least-used of our five senses

According to TrustMovies' calculations, it's been 15 years since we've had a film -- Jeremy Podeswa's lovely, funny and moving The Five Senses -- based around the one of these senses that is least used in motion pictures. Now we have Analeine Cal y Mayor's new film (the co-writer and director is shown at right), TREADING WATER, which, among other claims to fame, is that rare Canadian/Mexican co-production -- which leaves out the very large and increasingly ungovernable country that lies in between.

This collaboration between cold and warm climes has resulted in a very odd little movie about the "other" that -- despite its toying with a tad of surrealism here, a nod to class consciousness there, and an opening that harks back to the idea of life having evolved from the sea -- is basically your standard rom-com featuring a premise that is anything but. Ms Cal y Mayor's movie begins with a charmingly animated credit sequence in which a character (who turns out to be our hero) goes through a pre-natal time in which he must shed his marine-life scales and other deep-sea permutations before being born. This immediately puts us in mind of not only of our possible marine heritage but of how fluid is that sexuality that can turn out either male or female, and often contains interesting amalgams of both.

There is one sea-life feature that our hero Mica (Douglas Smith, above) has not managed to shed, however. This is apparent from birth onwards, and it directs the course of Mica's entire life. That life includes parents -- a soon-to-become absentee dad (Don McKellar) and a mom (Spanish actress Ariadna Gil) whose time is dedicated to running a home/museum in honor of famed crooner Guillermo Garabai (Gonzalo Vega). This makes poor Mica's life doubly, even triply odd. So odd, in fact, that he is soon seeing a shrink (Carrie-Anne Moss, below) with whom he continues throughout his young manhood.

The scenes depicting our boy's elementary school days are charming and relatively swift; once he hits young adulthood, the movie begins to approximate the more typical rom-com (but with a hero who is anything but run-of-the-mill). He reconnects (but is too obtuse to realize this) with a young woman (the quite adorable Zoë Kravitz, below) who had shown interest in him as a child, and suddenly love is in the air.

Where all this goes and why is relatively predictable from there on,  which is too bad, because, given the set-up we've been fed, we very much want something more from this bubbly but finally too flavorless film. The movie closed with a nod to "magic," and the end credits whisk us to the land of musical comedy, somewhat in the manner of the recent and much darker film, The Voices. That film handled both its rom-com and musical elements in a much stronger manner, however. 

After its intriguing set-up and early follow-through, we 're expecting something if not profound at least thoughtful and worth parsing. Instead the film opts for cute and easy over all else, and so Treading Water becomes a little too close to the very action that its title describes.

Distributed by The Orchard and running 92 minutes, the movie opens this Friday, March 13, in New York City, where it will play the Cinema Village and in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle's Music Hall 3. On Friday, March 20, the film will open at the Sundance Cinema (Seattle, WA), the Sundance Cinema (Houston, TX), the Plaza Theatre (Atlanta, GA) and the Harkins Shea 14 (Phoenix, AZ). As of yesterday, March 10, it also made its VOD debut via VOD via iTunes, Amazon, Youtube, Sony Network, XBOX, VUDU, Vubiquity and DirectTV. 

No comments: