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September 2011

Waterborne

cast: Christopher Masterton, Jake Muxworthy, Jon Gries, and Mageina Tova

director: Ben Rekhi

80 minutes (15) 2005
widescreen ratio 16:9
2020 DVD Region 2

RATING: 6/10
review by A.E. Grace

Waterborne

Waterborne is a dark drama surrounding the panic-stricken residents of Los Angeles as they speculate the contamination of the city's water supply. Thematically speaking, director Ben Rehki succeeds in capturing the aftermath of a terrorist attack, creating a gritty, realistic exploration of characters succumbing to a dramatic threat against their life source. The tone of the movie remains consistent in its evocation of dread and hopelessness, casting a contemplative wartime mood through its intriguing characters.

Multiple storylines are woven together by the crisis over four days, bringing young lives together and uniting them in fear. There is a suggestion of culture throughout the piece, which gives it the feel of a documentation of the crisis, as opposed to a drama surrounding it. The need for survival strings residents together despite their cultural conflicts and diversity, and aids the characters in their internal quest to search for answers. The subject matter marries naturally with the emotional portrayal of despair from the characters, who struggle with realism and desperation which at times is as intriguing as it is moving. Christopher Masterton, best known as Francis in Malcolm In The Middle, delivers a dignified, uncommonly serious performance, which draws the viewer in as slowly and delicately as the unfolding story.

Waterborne delivers on all counts for an independent film, depicting a grounded and palpable story of the characters' fight to keep sane and make sense of the slowly developing crisis. Unfortunately, at times, the story does lack any sense of urgency. Whilst the gradual pace and contemplative nature of the story was interesting, it does become lacklustre. I couldn't help but think this movie would be best suited to a group of stoners rather than fully-alert cinemagoers, who might like to stay awake throughout the whole film. As it goes, this isn't quite my cup of tea. I could appreciate the allusions to unspoken threats and the helplessness of the human race, and I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the cultural unity that runs as an undercurrent throughout the film.

However, I'm inclined to reach the conclusion that the marketing of the movie prepares the viewer for something much different than what it really represents. The cover art alone, of a biohazard symbol, suggests content of guns, nuclear war, and terror as opposed to all I've just described. This leads me to wonder whether Ben Rehki really intended it to be slow-paced and reflective, or if it was just convenient when the action itself failed to add much excitement to the movie.

On the whole, although this film is interesting it unfortunately lacked pace, and didn't hold my attention throughout. I still feel it's worth defending for the care and consideration made to cultural themes outside of the main crisis, and I believe for that reason it would deserve a place on your shelf. If you're a fan of slow, explorative films as opposed to fast dramas and hard-hitting action, then this might just work for you. Waterborne is certainly one of the best examples I've seen of speculative drama.



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