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Water Lilies review

Director Céline Sciamma’s sparse, atmospheric debut captures the cruel and bewildering world of female adolescence with uncanny accuracy. It should’ve stuck with original title The Birth Of Octopuses; the thrashing limbs of the 15-year-old synchronised swimmers it centres on (acted by a host of convincing newbies) being the perfect accompaniment to their intense, clumsy awakenings of sexual desire. In a Paris suburb where adults are absent, skinny, quiet Marie ditches her chubby pal Anne (Louise Blachère) to hang with Floriane (Adele Haenel), whose precocious come-hither looks make her the reluctant object of girls’ jealousy and guys’ advances. Some scenes could’ve been gratuitous were it not for the film’s cold restraint, but the slow pace bottles a sense of that age when time seems to stretch endlessly.

 

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