The Water Man Movie Review & Summary: A Soulful Little Adventure

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The Water Man is David Oyelowo’s entry into filmmaking and it sure packs a lot of emotion and heart. 

The Water Man Movie Plot

The Water Man is a fantasy-adventure film about a young boy named Gunner who sets out on a quest to save his ill mother by searching for a mythic figure who knows the secret to immortality. Gunner enlists the help of a mysterious local girl who has her own terrifying tale of meeting this figure, known as the Water Man, face-to-face. Together they journey into the remote Wild Horse forest, but the deeper they venture, the stranger and more dangerous the forest becomes.

The Water Man Movie Cast

  • Lonnie Chavis as Gunner
  • Rosario Dawson as Mary
  • David Oyelowo as Amos
  • Amiah Miller as Jo
  • Alfred Molina as Jim

The Water Man Movie Review

The Water Man is incredibly hopeful and heartwarming at the same time. Watching this movie transported me into a mystical world which can be attributed to its amazing shots and its beautiful score. The main lead is one fantastic child actor as he aces each and every emotion with grace. Being face to face with such a perplexing situation is demanding and excruciating, especially for a child who can’t comprehend half of it. Yet it work wonders and creates a setting which is filled with innocence and naivety. The childlike innocence of the film is so gracefully brought across by Lonnie Chavis who finesses all of these different emotions and reactions.

The Water Man is about Gunner (Lonnie Chavis) and his quest to find a cure for his cancer ridden mother, Mary (Rosario Dawson). They move into a new town where the rumours of this immortal monster called The Water Man are spread out and people are either afraid or fascinated by it. The young and immensely talented graphic novel artist, Gunner, soon learns more about this “monster” and the curse of immortality that has struck him. He believes that none of the treatment that his mom receives is helping her and hence he takes it upon himself to confront this monster and ask for the cure himself. On his journey he meets a young, blue haired girl, Jo whose job is to guide people to The Water Man. They both embark on the journey wherein they discover the true sense of closure, and what life really means.

In a still from The Water Man

The Water Man Movie: David Oyelowo’s First Step in Filmmaking

David Oyelowo, in his directorial debut, presents a story which is about children and for children. Its charisma comes from this innocence and the adventure which creates the entire movie. The Water Man acknowledges the various mindsets of children and utilizes their naivety to harness a story which is so simple yet subtly profound. In certain parts its well shot yet there were some editing choices I wasn’t particularly fond of. Peter Baert’s score plays a huge role in bringing out the thrill. There were times when it felt epic and then there were different heart-warming and heart wrenching aspects which accompanied a deep soothing chorus.

The mother-son relationship is the way it should be, but Gunner’s bonding with his dad really moved me. The father is just trying his absolute best to cope up with everything on his plate, and because of that he can’t seem to relate with what his child might be facing. He tries to resolve it in the only sympathetic way he knows, but most of the time, it’s a miss rather than a hit. I was fond of how it seemed to go more downhill as the plot progressed and hence it further fueled Gunner’s mission. Gunner and Jo’s relationship was filled with little gags which were spread out and through the progression, we learn so much more about Jo and her past. The story that they integrated with her explained so much about why she does what she does. 

Alfred Molina, who played Jim, essentially guides Gunner to the quest. His character, in my opinion, could have been utilized more. With such a talented actor helming the character, it felt out of place that his involvement was so limited in the actual adventure. He is in this weird area of having a cameo appearance which isn’t implied. Maybe I went in expecting too much. The other thing I wasn’t necessarily fond of was the culmination of the adventure. The revelation felt more or less predictable but what really bugged me was that sometimes it tries to force that message a bit too much, making the actually takeaway feel more pretentious than realized. I for one would have loved to see a more satisfying ending to the quest of Gunner and Jo. 

That being said, The Water Man is beautiful and moving, it has some great performances but Lonnie Chavis really makes this movie his own, like it should be. David Oyelowo has always been a talented actor and now seeing him make a film as good as The Water Man, leaves me hopeful that this isn’t the last directorial venture we will see from the man. Its fantastical and mesmerizing yet at its core is the true meaning of living and loving, and it tells that story beautifully. 

The Water Man Movie Critical Reception

The Water Man stands at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Movie Culture Synopsis

The Water Man is soulful and sweet. And while it doesn’t necessarily bring new things to the table, it finesses everything nonetheless. The performances are amazing and it leaves you hopeful which, frankly, is what we all are rooting for.