Watermark is a documentary filled with images both beautiful and wrenching, yet the film as a whole is a disappointment.
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Always arresting and sometimes troubling, Watermark — aside from the odd comment here and there — neither lectures nor argues.
Here's a case of images in the service of important ideas, rather than entertainment, yet they could hardly be more powerful, from roaring torrents released by a dam in China to a lyrical helicopter shot of a glistening river in British Columbia.
By keeping explanatory talking-heads interviews to a minimum, the filmmakers put their trust in the audience to draw their own conclusions based on what they present to us.
If Watermark does nothing else, it will make you question society's contradictory view of water use.
There’s a difference between an exhibition of one photographer’s work and a speedy tour of a museum’s entire photography wing, and Watermark feels more like the latter, despite Burtynsky’s involvement.
Unfortunately, while the documentary’s points are clear, its desire to articulate them primarily through contrasts neuters some of its persuasiveness.
Despite the staggering range of material Watermark manages to present — Burtynsky’s five-year undertaking is certainly the most encompassing survey any one artist has ever dedicated to the subject — it’s still just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.
It’s as if the movie’s many pieces are supposed to be like impressionistic brush strokes. When seen together, the result is pretty to look at. But it’s not as meaningful as it should be.
Watermark feels less focused than “Manufactured Landscapes.” While it presents us with awful and/or awe-inspiring images and ideas, the movie lacks the tightening grip that made the earlier work so unforgettable.