Opening 12 Dec 2019
Aquarela is a bit of a damp squib. Lake Baikal, Russia is its starting point, where the marriage between gripping visuals and astonishing audio is enthralling. Afterward, it is anyone’s guess when one body of water is abandoned for another unless, perhaps, oceanographers and/or topographers. Nowhere does director Victor Kossakovsky give a hint; likewise, very few fish, foul, or mammals are shown. A rough itinerary breakdown from press notes include: Siberia, Russia, Greenland, the USA—New York, California, and Miami, Florida (recognizable) during Hurricane Irma (unrecognizable), and Angel Falls, Canaima National Park, Estado Bolívar, Venezuela. Far be it for me to say, though, whether these are listed in the order shown.
Naturally, oceans are stupendously majestic, powerful, and perniciously scary, just as waterways and sources can be graceful, quiet, and playful. The cinematography (Ben Bernhard, Viktor Kossakovsky) is breathtakingly beautiful, and Alexander Dudarev’s sound design mixes natural noises and appropriately contrasted music, including Finnish heavy metal. That said is the sum of this documentary’s allure.
There is no plot; instead, H2O is shown in every form imaginable … except tears. Titles superimposed over the visuals would have helped, especially considering many sequences visual uniformity. This is acceptable for an hour, possibly longer, if a film is engrossing and interesting. Otherwise, Aquarela might be frustrating and borderline boring, like wading through a liquid limbo. There are too many other nature documentaries; wait for the DVD. 89 minutes (Marinell Haegelin)