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Water Lilies

3.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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(Sep 02, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

During a summer in Paris, a love triangle develops between three girls in this provocative and perceptive portrait of teen angst and nascent sexuality. The awkward Anne, the bad girl Floriane and the gawky Marie play an intense game of emotional chess as they wrestle with love, friendship and their desire for one another.

DVD EXTRAS: Deleted Scenes, Casting Segments

Amazon.com

Director Céline Sciamma’s feature debut, Water Lilies, recalls the intimacy of teenage friendship as it tells the story of three girls grappling with their newly formed sexual identities in suburban Paris. Opening with scenes of the local high school’s synchronized swimming team, Water Lilies stars Marie (Pauline Acquart), coveting a spot on the sophisticated female sports team. Her best friend, Anne (Louise Blachère), is non-athletic and grows increasingly disturbed as Marie courts swim team captain, sexy Floriane (Adele Haenel), to secure a place in the popular group. However, as Marie and Floriane grow closer, Marie learns hard lessons about loyalty and bonds girls develop at this crucial life stage. Water Lilies is stylishly filmed, with slow, rolling scenes reminiscent of Sofia Coppola’s film, The Virgin Suicides. A charming shot of Marie, for example, kicking her legs up in the bath as her pet turtle swims around her exemplifies the cute, acutely personal tone this film cultivates. All three girls, but especially Floriane, exude hipster appeal that is greatly enhanced by a subtle lesbian subtext that underlies their love triangle conflict. As borders between friendship and attraction melt away, Water Lilies becomes testament to the unique intimacy that females can achieve. Unlike Sofia Coppola’s films, which tend to gloss over character depth in favor of pinpointing fashionable aspects of melancholy, this film’s narrative unfolds craftily, through quiet dialogue between the girls that show how deeply each cares for the other. Scenes in locker rooms and swimming pools alone, as the "synchro" girls travel for competitions, get costumed, and practice their routines, make Water Lilies enjoyable. Even more rewarding, however, is Sciamma’s ability to turn teenage identity crisis into something humorous, while still conveying its severity and high-stakes outcomes. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Pauline Acquart, Louise Blachère, Adèle Haenel, Warren Jacquin, Christel Baras
  • Directors: Céline Sciamma
  • Writers: Céline Sciamma
  • Producers: Bénédicte Couvreur, Jérôme Dopffer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Koch Lorber Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2008
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001AZ5IV0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,605 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Water Lilies" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
A film review should help you decide whether or not to see the film. It shouldn't be some reviewer's soapbox. Rather, it's like a matchmaking service, looking not for the reviewer's ideal spouse, but the one for you.

That's what I'll try to do here.

First some filters: this is an organically-paced film in French, with subtitles, shot on a low budget. So if you demand that everything you see look like a glossy Hollywood spectacular, skip "Water Lilies." Even the landscapes aren't gorgeous. This is the Paris of sprawling anonymous suburbs. I'm not sure the characters have even seen the Eiffel Tower... except on TV.

And skip it if you're looking for French porn shot from a middle-aged male point of view (Louis Malle comes to mind). There's nudity here but it's painful, not titillating. There's powerful romantic passion but not the kind of elaborately choreographed love scenes that pass for "sexy" in Hollywood.

Also skip it if you're looking for a lesbian film. It's not about the lesbian community. It's not about a teen discovering she's lesbian and dealing with family and friends who are horrified, yada yada. None of that. There is at least one lesbian in the film, but that doesn't make it a lesbian film, any more than the presence of a black guy in a leading role in "The Matrix" made it a "black film." Lesbianism isn't the subject of "Wild Lilies."

Moreover, skip it if you don't want to see how three fifteen-year old girls see the world. This is what led to one singularly dense reviewer calling this a man-hating film. Well, duh. Imagine what boys are like from a fifteen year old girl's perspective. Girls mature emotionally before boys do, by and large. Boys don't catch up until they're in their 20s (if ever, some might add).
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Format: DVD
Marie (Pauline Acquart) is petite, girlish, and shy, but likely on the verge of being a great beauty; her friend Anne (Louise Blachere) is awkward and somewhat overweight, and dealing with the pain those attributes engender from her peers; and Floriane (Adele Haenel) is already a great beauty, but doesn't know how to deal with all the attention she gets from the boys. "Water Lilies" is the story of their interactions, their experiences, and their growth (both emotionally and physically) during a school year in France.

The movie is understated, poetic, and sensual, though it would be a mistake to call it an erotic film. Rather it includes occasional erotic moments (discreetly filmed for the most part) in a story that's mostly about teenage angst. I also wouldn't characterize the movie as a "lesbian film", despite the same-sex crushes on display, especially among Marie and Floriane. The few romantic/sensual scenes between the girls were, to me, simply examples of the kind of deep affection and strong feelings that aren't uncommon among young teen girls. I could definitely see all of these girls, despite the intensity of their feelings for each other, eventually moving onto boyfriends when they're a little older, once their jumbled, still new, puberty-fueled emotions calm a bit. I'm not hostile to an interpretation of the film that says it's primarily about lesbian love and/or lesbian self-discovery, but I didn't see it that way.

"Water Lilies" is a shade under 90 minutes, looks and sounds great on DVD, and has easy-to-read subtitles that can be turned on and off. Extras are limited to the film's trailer, five minutes of deleted scenes, and four minutes of screen tests.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
SPOILER ALERT!

Almost all French films are dialog heavy. The directors & screenwriters talk the audience to sleep. French story lines are built around endless chit-chat. Also, most French film makers when dealing with drama, eliminate all bright colors -- they feel that it distracts the audience from the seriousness of the characters talking. Now, along comes Water Lilies.

Not only do the actors rarely talk, when they do -- it is short and to the point. Beautifully filmed in rich bright colors, this movie is a visual experience. You watch the plot unfold, you don't listen to it unfold. You immediately understand that it is teenage love story, filled with brief moments of joy and long moments of disappointment. The story is told through a multitude of facial close-ups -- you can see what each girl is thinking, feeling.

And in the end, the main girl (age 12?) understands that what she was experiencing for a 16 yr old girl was not "love", but infatuation and that friendship is stronger than infatuation. And how is this revealed? Not through a long dissertation on what she has learned during the course of the movie, but by her being filmed alone at night next to an indoor swimming pool, and after a few moments of silence and reflection, jumping into the water.

The immediate next scene when her older friend joins her, ties a pretty bow around the meaning and end of the film.

Those two friends are the beautiful Water Lilies.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie can barely be considered a lesbian drama, revolving around the theme of a teenager in high school who finds herself attracted to and developing a crush on her synchronized swimming high school idol, who herself, discovers hidden feelings for her admirer but represses the feelings in favor of heterosexual relationships, and never truly blossoms into a full-fledged lesbian drama about unrequited love, and skirts around fleeting lesbian touches featuring nothing more than mere kissing that leaves something to be desired.

If you're searching for lesbian drams featuring high schoolers, go instead for Blue is the Warmest Color and Q.
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