Kiss the Water (2 stars)

Kiss the Water

Eric Steel's documentary about fly-fisher Megan Boyd is a slight curiosity of a film

A passion project for producer Eric Steel, Kiss the Water opens with his voiceover explaining a personal interest in the film’s genesis. Having read the newspaper obituary of Scottish fishing legend Megan Boyd, Steel (a producer of Nora Ephron’s home-cooking opus Julie & Julia) was inspired to investigate, travelling to the northern coast of Scotland to find out the true story of Boyd’s life.

Fly-fishing was Boyd’s art, and although footage of her is fleeting, there’s a wealth of anecdotal evidence from those who ventured to her Highland cottage. Plus, there are close-up reconstructions of the way Boyd created her bait alongside some rather lovely animated snippets depicting life below and above the water’s surface.

The documentary follows Boyd’s rather eccentric life in a straight chronology, with such milestones as Boyd’s creation of flies under the patronage of Prince Charles presented as events of huge significance, not to mention footage of Charles’ wedding to Diana weirdly interspersed with cartoons of fish being caught. Kiss the Water is quite an odd little curiosity of a film; likely to be of considerable interest to anyone passionate about fly-fishing, but the lazy structure, lack of narrative drive or visual stimulus quickly reveal the reasons that Boyd’s life hasn’t been tackled cinematically before.

As a documentary, Kiss the Water offers little of the lyricism that the title promises, mainly just offering picture postcard views and a succession of talking heads describing an arcane process which is never firmly visualized or explained. This year’s far more creative and visceral documentary, Leviathan, provided a much more cinematic experience; Kiss the Water’s charming but slight fisherman’s tales, as caught by Steel, seem like mere tiddlers in comparison.

GFT, Glasgow, Tue 28–Thu 30 Jan.

Kiss the Water -- Trailer

Kiss the Water

  • 2 stars
  • 2013
  • US / UK
  • 1h 20min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Eric Steel
  • UK release: 10 January 2014

Documentary on the life and work of Megan Boyd, legendary Scots maker of salmon flies.