By: Addison Wylie
Wet Bum features a superb performance by TIFF Rising Star Julia Sarah Stone. Her helpless presence draws us in, as if we feel the need to lend her a shoulder to cry on. But, it’s her earnest portrayal of fourteen-year-old outsider Sam that signifies the puzzling phases of fitting in among your peers, and trying to swallow the lump in your throat when you’re singled out for being different.
The film that surrounds Stone is limp, but isn’t without strengths. For instance, Wet Bum’s writer/director Lindsay MacKay knows how to make elements of a story ambiguous. For a while, we don’t know if Sam’s relationship with her slightly older lifeguarding teacher is cute or cautionary. And, Craig Arnold is especially good at crafting his performance around those moments of “what if?”.
MacKay also does a comparable job at disguising her film and not falling for usual coming-of-age tropes. It comes off as a legitimate character drama about a meek high schooler instead of an overt quest to find herself.
Unfortunately, what MacKay does expose her film to are all those precious quirks found in typical indies. Sam works part-time at a seniors home, which opens the film up to peculiar things said and done by older folks. MacKay may think these quirks add character, but all they do is discredit any authenticity within these roles. The musical score is also one of those generic mix-ups between a squeezebox and delicate twinkles.
Wet Bum is sweet and even momentarily touching, but it’s just another indie film.
Wet Bum screens at TIFF on:
Sunday, September 7 at 3:45 p.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Wednesday, September 10 at 2:15 p.m. @ The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.
Check out the Wet Bum TIFF page here.
Buy tickets here.
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