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By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Powerful docu captures beauty and devastation of water.

Movie PG 2019 89 minutes
Aquarela Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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Filmed all over the world, this nearly wordless documentary shows Mother Nature at her most beautiful and most enraged; it will make humans feel insignificant by comparison. Kossakovsky captured footage for Aquarela in Scotland, Mexico, Russia, Greenland, Venezuela, Portugal, and various cities in the United States, as well as the Atlantic Ocean. He used a special 96 frames-per-second rate, which -- in theaters that are showing the film at 48 frames per second -- results in a kind of hyper-realistic look, much like looking out a window. This technique can be disorienting in fiction movies, but it works great for a documentary like this one.

Except for the overall theme of water and the threat of a changing climate, the movie's segments aren't directly connected to one another. And without a story or narration or dialogue, it's easy to zone out on the pretty images. But Kossakovsky's choice to use a bombastic heavy metal music score sometimes makes it difficult to get in tune with the images; it's jarring and adds a despairing harshness to the things we're seeing. Still, Aquarela is a powerful experience overall. It's neither hopeful nor hopeless. It simply asserts that we humans are small, and the planet is big. Regardless of political beliefs, or whether you believe in climate change, none of it will matter when the waters come.

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