Our man (Tom E. Nicholson) is isolated and frustrated. He is seeking help. He is drowning in his own history, fat and realization but he is too miserable to work seriously upon it. He is a symbol in himself. He can be interpreted in numerous ways depending upon the sensibilities of the viewer. But he, like many, has a past which isn’t a pleasant one. A past, so powerful, that it dictates our man’s present. Then arrives a post that changes a couple of lives and takes one. Written by Chris Retts, Mark Wilson’s low-budget thriller drama ‘Wade in the Water’ is sprinkled with comical moments and creates an intriguing atmosphere with its didactic undertones.
What’s tricky to understand for the first quarter becomes a cumulation of a couple of brilliant character arcs intertwined with each other through a vile and wicked man who had essentially been harmless to both, by the time we reach the last quarter.
Wade in the water is an intelligently written independent drama with a perspicacious screenplay. The director creates an isolated environment for the protagonist and effortlessly isolates the audience along with it through multiple elements which set the narrative.
Our man watches classic westerns, often to subdue his porn audio as he masturbates, and listens to gospel music despite his denial to believe in God because he finds pain in it. These episodes, allegorical in nature, hint at our man’s barren attempts of revival and overcoming. His ultimate vigilant action which defines the further course of the film is a manifestation of his pain, sorrows, and anger amalgamated into one.
Uniquely, we are given another character, a disillusioned one at that, to savour in the process. Danika Golombek portrays an act of redemptive revenge in Tilly against our man’s vigilant one. To say it’s a powerful performance would be an understatement, it’s a mysterious act and Danika makes every next frame unpredictable.
The slow chemistry between the two characters progresses like an endothermic reaction, gradually absorbing the heat, toxicity, and discomfort that ultimately ceases to persists as our film approaches its the climax, contrary to the numerous other films in which the relationship of a man and a woman is exploited to generate heat. Comical elements are maturely disguised in the proceedings which makes them incomprehensible at a few places.
The film is a technical success. The soundtrack perfectly complements the narrative without overdoing it. The colour temperature is warm to suit the tone and cinematography is apt. The cinematographer often uses camera movements to build tension, like how one low angle long shot consisting of our man sitting without motion, comes out to be static initially but the camera starts to shake mildly which affects the subconscious viewer in us. Such techniques are employed at a number of places for different reasons.
I’d like to call the screenplay impressive in all regards as the director is aware of his motives. The film is crisply edited which doesn’t leave scope for unnecessary moments. Mark Wilson proves that he’s here to be taken seriously.
Wade in the water is an example of a strong independent cinema which achieves more than it sought. The climax is risky and unconventional. One can call it passively idealistic while some can find themselves underwhelmed. It worked for me, I wish it works for everyone alike merely because it boasts of strong underlying themes without being even remotely preachy about it.
Wade in the water must be watched if you seek something different. I’ve tried to keep the analysis as spoiler free as possible because the film’s first half is used majorly to develop an episode central to the entire arc on which the second half rests. Watch our man wade with his share of conflicts and turmoil.