November 7, 2019

The Ocean Remains Undefeated in AQUARELA
Directed by Viktor Kossakovsky. (90 min)

Review by Fluffy the Fearless😸

Aquarela opens with several unidentified men picking around holes in the ice on a frozen Danish lake. After spotting what they’re looking for, they assemble a customized crane to fish-out whatever sank there. It turns out to be an automobile, at which time we see a second car speeding across the lake in the distance. Then yet-another car gets stuck and slowly sinks beneath the ice. Though the men manage to save two of the passengers, a third one isn’t so lucky.

I’m not sure what’s worse...that drivers are willing to risk their lives and vehicles by taking a shortcut across a frozen lake, or it happens so often that people make a living rescuing these idiots. I laughed in spite of myself.

It’s an unexpected way to open a documentary that’s not-only devoid of any narration, appearances of human beings are few and far between for the remainder of the film. Still, the message is abundantly clear: Do not fuck with water. It is undefeated.

One of Siri's crueler practical jokes.
That message is driven home in scene after scene of ominous, massive and awe-inspiring bodies of water. The first two-thirds of the film are the most effective, which features the movements of glaciers, submerging and resurfacing like titanic whales. Passing boats are mere specs in the foreground. Director Viktor Kossakovsky later works his way south, above & beneath icebergs to the tumultuous sea, which is perpetually churning, rising and falling. He makes ocean movements menacing – almost monstrous – aided in no small part by a metal-tinged score by Eicca Toppinen (of the band, Apocalyptica). A surprising choice of music, but somehow fitting.

The ice and ocean footage is so spectacular that subsequent scenes closer to the equator are kind-of anticlimactic. We see hurricane-ravaged Florida, a deluge spilling over a South American dam and cascading waterfalls from a variety of creative angles. While lovingly shot and visually impressive, these scenes aren’t quite as breathtaking. Had Kossakovsky chosen an opposite course and begun his aquatic journey here, the film could have built to an epic crescendo.

Nevertheless, Aquarela manages to instill wonder with its images, frequently depicting water as though it were a living, breathing entity...and not one to be messed with. It’s a film probably best enjoyed in a theater, but a unique experience regardless. And this much is certain: You’ll think twice before attempting to cross the ice.


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