Monday, August 19, 2019

film review: Aquarela

Directed by Victor Kossakovsky

ChinoKino score: B

Review by Allan Tong

Aquarela is Portuguese for "watercolour" and an apt title for a 90-minute visual essay about the power of water. Think of the Koyaanisqatsi films, visual feasts portraying nature without any narration or characters. These are films you have to watch on a big screen, unless your home movie theatre backs out into a drive-in.

Aquarela consists of various tableaux shot around the world. It's most effective when there's mortal danger. For instance, it opens on Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest fresh water lake, where crews rescue people and their cars that plunge through the ice. This footage puts you right there as they tumble into the icy waters. Then the camera drifts down a deserted Miami street as sheets of water dance off the pavement and palm trees struggle to stand in the powerful wind. At other moments, the camera lingers a little too long on, says, Venezuela’s Angel Falls.

Global warming is the terrifying message behind all these visuals together. In particular, the film dwells on the glaciers crumbling into the oceans. The few humans in Aquarela looks powerless and small against nature, whose power is beautiful but merciless. However, less-dramatic moments slow down the film in places.

All in all, Aquarela is a purely cinematic journey worth riding.

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