Water Lilies

The camaraderie of the undesired: Invisible to everyone else, pinched, late-blooming Marie (Pauline Acquart) pairs with Anne (Louise Blachère), a heavy girl with a pasty food-court complexion. Cruelly cloddish on dry land, Anne provides their only link to the larger social world through her synchronized-swimming extracurriculars. Complications come at poolside, where the two-girl clique meets Floriane (Adele Haenel), a swimmer who’s come through puberty with all the right proportions and whose beauty entrances Marie. Flo won’t give it up to her appropriately hot partner, François, after whom Anne ineptly pines—and so a trickle-down chain of exploit-the-weaker is set in motion. The p.o.v. is fixed: Neither object of desire is seen outside of Marie’s and Anne’s lives; adult authority is alluded to but never present (the effect is more Massacre at Central High than Peanuts). Completing the convergence of rare young talents is the director, 27-year-old Frenchwoman Céline Sciamma. Her feature debut doesn’t quite have the stun of discovery—mortified adolescent sexuality is something of a national specialty, after all—though she inexhaustibly endeavors after the indelible image.
July 11-17, 2008

 
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