The Water Man (2020)

dir. David Oyelowo

The strange thing about The Water Man isn’t that somewhere in there, there’s a half-decent film. It’s more that somewhere in there, there are several different half-decent films. There’s a half-decent coming-of-age movie about a boy facing his understanding of mortality. There’s a half-decent movie about the boy exploring his life and emotions through his burgeoning love of designing graphic novels. There’s a half-decent fantasy romp where an outcast boy meets an outcast girl and they embark on an adventure fueled by their collective imagination. There’s a half-decent exploration of the much-whispered about Water Man, and whether he is a myth or a reality. There’s a half-decent domestic family drama as a couple struggles to keep their family together in the face of tragedy. The problem is, all these elements do not come together to make a half-decent film, with The Water Man’s tone and focus shifting so often and so erratically that it’s never possible to feel immersed. Nothing is really explained or justified, it’s simply a series of vaguely connected events which go on for a while then just stop. With acting, producing and directing credits, all signs point to this having been a passion project for David Oyelowo, except the final product doesn’t contain much discernible passion at all.

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