Water Lilies (Naissance Des Pieuvres)
The literal translation of this film’s French title is ‘Birth of Octopuses’, which is a far more apt description of how the growing pains of a trio of 15-year-old girls translate into arrogance and sexual confusion.
Set in a new Parisian suburb, much of the action takes place in the municipal swimming pool where Floriane (Adele Haenel), the best looking girl in school with a reputation for putting out, struts her stuff as the star performer in the local synchronised swimming team. Marie (Pauline Acquart) wants to be cool by association and rejects her big-boned best friend Anne (Louise Blachere) in order to get on the good side of Floriane. Hovering around the girls like sharks are pubescent boys ready to pounce.
In tone and pacing the film is similar, but not nearly as good as Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s outstanding 2004 drama Innocence. First-time writer and director Céline Sciamma shows a penchant for choosing postcard images, especially in the swimming pool, and random dialogue but struggles with pushing the plot forward and creating interesting character arcs. Like Pawel Pawlikowski’s My Summer of Love this is all too predictable, though there is sufficient evidence here that Sciamma is a talent to watch out for in the future.
Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 14 Mar.