I got an email from the publicist for the Michigan-made movie "Water Walk" asking me to review it for my blog. I clicked on the link and it got my attention because of the topic, the relationship between fathers and sons.
It's based on a story from a book by Steve Faulkner, a northern Michigan newspaper editor, who lost touch with his teenage son and found the chasm between the two of them almost uncrossable. They just didn't know how to communicate together.
We went to the first showing for the movie at Celebration Cinema in Lansing. There were two other people in that theater beside my wife and myself. It was an uh-oh moment that the lack of attendance meant that the movie was a real dog. As senior citizens, young ones, we paid the $7 per person rate. There was always the supper afterward at the nearby Applebees, we figured.
Here's what we saw: A movie that could be watched at two different levels. Look at it through Hollywood eyes and look at it through the lens of accomplished film-makers, you will leave really disappointed.
The sound quality wasn't quite at the sweet spot and there were times when scenes had a few seconds where they seemed like they were shot with a Flip video camera. And there were times when the actors seemed like they were reading their lines off of que cards. That feeling wasn't terrible, but it was there.
Look at it from another level and it told a story that cuts to the heart. A father and a son give their relationship one last try. They were going to recreate the canoe adventure of explorers Father Marquette and Joliet from northern Michigan to St. Louis. Remember this is based on a real story.
The dad was a workaholic and the son was getting ready to go to college. And then the dad loses his job. The door opens for this trip and they go through it.
The photography along the water part of their trip, particularly, the part down the Mississippi was beautiful.
Did the filmmaker pull it off? Kind of, sort of. I'm anxious to read the book that the dad, Steve Faulkner wrote about the experience.
Does he expose more layers to his relationship with his son? The film peeked over the edge to another layer, but never quite made it. What about the complexity of interaction that exists between fathers and sons and those who are estranged? I didn't see it in this film. It portrayed it as coming far too easy.
Well, should you go? It depends on your expectations and the filter that you view it through.
I thank God for the relationship I have had with my son. There were the several hundred grocery shopping trips preceded by drinking cappucinno, our trips around the country to various Promise Keeper events. Those memories are treasured. I hope that relationship can grow as we go through the transitions of life.
Would I want him and my son-in-law to see this movie or read the book? Yes. I just ordered the book from Amazon and I'd be happy to lend it to them when I'm done reading it.