Still the Water France, Japan, Spain 2014 – 110min.
Still the Water
Amami, Japan. The harmony of a small community by the sea is disturbed by the discovery of a dead body in the water. Among the first to be affected is Kaito, a teenager who lives alone with his mother – far from his father, who is in Tokyo – and his girlfriend Kyoko, who must come to terms with the fact an illness is taking her mother, a shaman, away from her.
1997 Golden Camera for Suzaku, Grand Jury Prize in 2007 for The Mourning Forest : the career of Japanese director Naomi Kawase is tied very closely to the Cannes Film Festival. Still the Water, her 9th movie, brought her into the official competition for the fourth time. The harmony of man and nature, the silent duel between life and death: these are framed within the Amami Islands, rocked by an ocean that fluctuates between calm and storm, adding wonder to the story of two adolescents who find a body and learn to live with hard reality. At ease with her setting and characters, whom she films up close, Kawase fights to stay on course with the plot, which is distilled over long hours that engulf its sensitivity and finesse. Although Still the Water is smart enough to remain discreet in unveiling emotions, resisting the effusive, teary drama of some of Kawase compatriots, it doesn’t manage to avoid drifting inexorably towards a conclusion that is both obvious and disappointing.