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Koch Lorber presents
Water Lilies (2007)

“The ceiling is probably the last thing most people see.”
- Marie (Pauline Acquart)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: September 24, 2008

Stars: Pauline Acquart, Adèle Haenel, Louise Blachère
Other Stars: Warren Jacquin
Director: Céline Sciamma

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:23m:33s
Release Date: September 02, 2008
UPC: 741952314790
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Marie (Pauline Acquart) is a young tomboy who develops a major crush on popular swimmer Floraine (Adèle Haenel). Part of Floraine’s popularity stems from her willingness to please the boys at her school. Marie’s willingness to do anything for Floraine causes the swimmer to toy with her obsessor, also allowing her to use the tomboy as a chauffeur to and from her latest amorous encounter with a boy. The third part of this odd love triangle is homely, overweight Anne (Louise Blachère), who seems to be more than friends with Marie, yet isn’t shy about her lust for water-polo player François (Warren Jacquin). As this group of teenagers struggles to come to grips with their waves of emotion, feelings will be hurt and hearts broken, but lessons will be learned.

This wonderfully quirky coming-of-age tale is one of the more original efforts of its kind in years. Director Céline Sciamma does a wonderful job keeping our eyes riveted to the screen thanks to a brisk pace and complete story that provides just enough closure. At the same time, she leaves just enough unresolved to give the audience a level of hope that the characters' future will, indeed, be bright, despite what they’ve gone through at such a young age. After this debut feature, which she also wrote, Sciamma seems to have a bright future in front of her as well.

The acting by the young cast is nearly flawless, despite it being the debut feature for nearly all of the principals. Sharing the majority of the screen time, Acquart and Haenel offer commanding presences that remain natural, regardless of how risqué a given sequence is. While there’s really nothing in the way of nudity involving these two, they are still called upon to handle some rather sensitive material. Even with Acquart and Haenel’s fine performances, it’s Louise Blachère who steals every scene she’s in. Anne is easily the most complex character, but Blachère performs well beyond her young age. She’s also called upon to expose herself, both emotionally, and physically, and in all cases, she never makes the audience feel uncomfortable or that she is being exploited in any way.

Even with all of these things going for it, Water Lilies could have easily settled into the clichés that drive most coming-of-age or lesbian-themed movies. Instead, every minute of the brief running time seems fresh and new, opening our eyes to a potential high school counter-culture. You really can’t ask for much more than a movie that not only makes you think about the real-life ramifications of the subject matter, but also entertains the hell out of you along the way.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The picture quality is solid. There is some grain and digital artifacting in spots, but nothing too distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 French audio suits the subdued soundtrack very nicely. There’s never a call for active surrounds or any bass presence, but we do get crystal clear dialogue regardless of the rest of the audio elements.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Blame it on Fidel!, La Chinoise, Klimt, Tiresia, Nathalie…, Lagerfeld Confidential
3 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Casting Segments
Extras Review: There are a few extras here, including the theatrical trailerand previews for other Koch Lorber releases. We also get over five minutes of deleted scenes andCasting Segments with footage of Pauline Acquart, Louise Blachère, and Adèle Haenel auditioning for the film.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

If you’re tired of typical teenage movies that constantly underestimate the intelligence of their audience, then look no further than France for a new take on the genre. Water Lilies is a breath of fresh air from a first time director who commands a cast of new actors that give performances most seasoned veterans can only dream of. Koch Lorber’s disc is a fine effort, with solid audio and video presentations and a few nice extras.


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