Water Lilies grow up
by Fabien Lemercier
The Un Certain Regard sidebar at the 60th Cannes Film Festival has a distinctly feminine feel this year with three French female directors featuring in the selection.
The first in competition today is from 28 year-old director Céline Sciamma, who is making a promising debut with her first feature Water Lilies [+see also:
film profile], a coming-of-age film focused on three teenagers battling with the confused emergence of their desires.
With seductive and spontaneous performances by new actress Pauline Acquart (who calls to mind Charlotte Gainsbourg in L’effrontée), Adele Haenel (who came to attention in Christophe Ruggia’s The Devils) and Louise Blachère, the characters of Marie, Floriane and Anne struggle with the contradictions of an age that the director deals without falling into the trap of nostalgia of a first film.
A mish-mash of feelings and physical love are at the heart of Water Lilies: when, with whom and how to have sex for the first time are the main concerns of these teenagers, whose parents never appear in the film (a strange decision by the director but one that pays off).
United by the swimming pool and synchronised swimming – which offers a matrix of ballets, showers and changing rooms where looks are exchanged and bodies are sized up – the three heroines flirt on the narrow line between friendship and love.
"It was also about giving a snapshot of the start of womanhood. I thought it was fun to play with the codes of a film about adolescence, beauty, insecurity and the pupa, that of an unattractive body," explains Sciamma who also wrote the script. An ambition that succeeded for the director’s debut film, a delicate, humoristic tale full of life, filmed soberly and which benefits from a quality soundtrack by Para One.
Produced by Bénédicte Couvreur and Jérôme Dopffer for Les Productions Balthazar, the €2m Water Lilies received €470,000 in CNC advances on receipts, €383,000 from the Ile-de-France and pre-sales from Canal +.
(Translated from French)
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