Flow: For Love of Water

"Weak"

Flow: For Love of Water Review


When the world is on the line, it's easy to lose focus. So it is with Irena Salina's crisply-packaged and beautifully photographed but wholly scattered documentary on the worldwide water crisis, Flow. Salina is certainly able to put across the inarguable proposition that the world is facing a water crisis in the near future or even present; simple math about usage rates, waste, and the still growing human population make it impossible to disagree. But with a film that expends too much energy down multiple axes of provocation, few viewers will come away with much more than a vague notion of what the crisis is and what's at stake.

The most valuable takeaway point from Flow comes from its sure-footed argument about the troubling development of the bottled water industry. The film zeroes in on a number of cases in which giant conglomerates were literally sucking a region's water supply dry, and getting tax breaks from the local government for the privilege. Salina, a onetime French radio journalist, seems at her most surefooted when detailing the minutiae of stories like this, particularly in one instance where a Michigan community rose up in opposition to a Nestle bottling operation in their town.

It's in the mostly unreported efforts like these by international business concerns to actually privatize the distribution of water that Flow has its greatest value. Reporting from South America on the backlash against the push (backed by groups like the International Monetary Fund) to turn water distribution from a public to private concern, the film gives an inkling of the vast societal upheaval such a change produces. Spokespeople of a few of these business concerns show up to mouth platitudes about how they're just doing their job and delivering clean water for the good of humanity, a claim that the film easily demolishes.

Too much time is wasted by Salina following larger issues that deserve more treatment. Scant time is given to problems like massive dam projects that threaten the water supply, steadily dropping water tables around the world, and even (most troublingly) the prospect of armed conflict over water. Given that there is practically no more central concern to the continuation of human life on the planet than a clean water supply, addressing such a broad swath of issues would have been better handled in a multi-part miniseries project.

That Flow is an issue film is clear from the get-go, and yet by dispersing its narrative energy among so many different fronts (India, Bolivia, Africa) the crux of what Salina is trying to get across here doesn't become apparent until the end. The film concludes with the news that a movement is underway for the United Nations to include as part of its Universal Declaration of Human Rights the stipulation that all people deserve the right to clean and accessible water. It's an easily arguable point, but one that not nearly enough people will be moved to publicly support; this is a film that trickles instead of roars.

And not a drop to bottle.



Flow: For Love of Water

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 15th December 2011

Distributed by: Oscilloscope Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Irena Salina

Producer: Mike Morley, Steven Starr

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