Water follows the experience of Mary, a seven-year-old girl living with her family in rural New Zealand. One morning Mary discovers a burst pipe under the kitchen sink. Rather than dealing to the problem, the family ignore the leak, preferring to follow their banal daily lives, including their anticipation of a rugby game versus France that night.
The leak continues and slowly the house floods. A black comedy of surreal proportions, Water is a film about procrastination, denial and global warming. How one small problem, when ignored, can lead to disastrous consequences.
DIRECTOR’S NOTES - Chris Graham
Water is a film about many things, with many under water layers.
On its floating surface, it appears to be a film about a family in denial. How people often hide behind their daily trivial interests, and procrastinate the real issue that lies right in front of them, and often with an obvious deadline.
It’s about how we do that with our lives, relationships and problems. Under that surface, the film is about a dysfunctional family who lack communication as they are too busy talking about their own interests. It’s about ignorance and neglect.
It is also a film about how we respond to the need of our environment. That we are at great risk of avoiding our most serious issues and leaving it until it’s too late.
Underneath all that water, on the ground level, the film is essentially about global warming. Not in an actual sense, but as an analogy of the psychology behind human behaviour. In this case, our family’s immediate recognition of the leaking problem, but only to be predictably put aside and denied in order to attend to our daily trivial needs. Mary, our protagonist, is the only character who remains with any foresight and clarity to the inevitable threatening deadline.
Initially, the script for Water struck me as both brilliant and delicate. I saw Water as a film which turns on the audience and their assumptions. It begins with a sense of a common, bright reality that we all relate to and gradually arcs into a surreal and metaphorical film of suspense. Each element of the film follows this dark, downward Arc; the direction, the photography, the acting, the score, the mood, the lighting, the pace and the overall tone.
Once the audience begins to recognise this Arc in tone, I expect they will relate to it as a reminder to how vivd dreams can treat us and how they feel, for the dreamer. We as the audience are on a journey alongside Mary’s POV of her family’s calm reactions to a life threatening situation. She is the only character who we can see still has her feet on the ground of reality, while her family seem to wade within the rising level of denial.
I expect the audience to be riddled with questions: Where is this family’s rationale? Why aren’t they escaping the house? Why aren’t they talking about the actual? If they’ve stopped racing the rising water, what on earth are they waiting for?
To me, the story is universal. Although it has many recognisable elements of New Zealand culture, I think that the preoccupations of watching an All Black game, deciding what to wear to the school dance, and keeping the leaking water from the carpet, are all symbolic of any Western culture. This is all Kiwi, but not specifically. It is a trait shared by all humanity. Further, I imagine that an international audience will relate to the many themes in the film, from the dysfunctional characteristics of the family to the simplicity of our own daily denial.
Essentially, this is a story that talks about what isn’t being talk about. And that is why we made it, to provoke thought about topics that most of us pretend that if we don’t talk of them, then they will go away. This film says the opposite.