The last 2020 release that I got to see in theaters was Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire. I was blown away by every aspect of it and made a pact with myself to see everything on Sciamma’s resume. I already went back and watched Tomboy from 2011, which I also loved so my pact continues. I went back to 2007 for her directorial debut, Water Lilies. She has become one of my favorite directors of modern cinema and I only have one more film to watch of hers before the pact is over.
Water Lilies focuses heavily on three girls who live in a suburb of Paris as they are on summer break and all hang around the local pool. Two girls are on the team, and then one watches because she is best friends with one of them and has a crush on the other. All three of them are 15 and constantly talking about their sexual interests. It gets hazy and simmery as the summer progresses with a fourth party crashing the love triangle.
Water Lilies is a hell of a debut film for Sciamma and we get terrific performances from each of our main girls. The stand out for me is Adèle Haenel as Floriane. She is graceful and frustrating simultaneously and you simply can’t look away from her. Crystal Fournier was the cinematographer for Sciamma’s first three films and I can’t get over how mesmerizing the pool scenes are in Water Lilies. The camera is right at the surface of the pool and doesn’t allow you to get a full scope of what’s going on, rather giving you an idea of what it's like to be a part of this world.