Set in the competitive world of synchronised swimming, Water Lilies is a portrait of female adolescence. The film centres around three 15-year-old-girls who experience first love in very different ways.
Set in the Parisian suburb of Cergy, Céline Sciamma’s debut is an insight into the awkwardness of adolescence and the agony of first love.
The spirit of Esther Williams seeps through the story of Pauline Acquart’s crush on synchronised-swimming star Adèle Haenel. But Sciamma slyly reveals that what looks graceful on the surface often disguises hidden gaucheries, as she contrasts Haenel’s insecurities with the self-possession of Acquart’s podgy pal, Louise Blachère, who wants to sleep with Haenel’s boyfriend.
Its depiction of 15 year-olds as nascent adults without patronising or demonising them is refreshing - something European cinema consistently does better than Hollywood.
An affecting insight into the pain of growing up and the agony of first love.