Water Walking is at its core a deeply personal film about how we all have to, at some point in life, no matter how painful, move on and leave behind things in our past which we don’t want to let go of so easily. The film asks the question ─ how much of it do we want to keep and how much is disposable?
Shot in stark black-and-white with occasional flashes of colour, the film follows a frowning, conflicted young man picking out things in his room to pack into boxes, presumably moving into a new home. The film uses the objects he chooses to keep over others as a symbol to represent specific moments in his memory that have a special meaning to him that he cherishes. The camera focuses on everyday mundane objects to significant objects (shot in colour). The coloured objects include a smiley badge, a chimpanzee t-shirt, a soldier action figure, and a happy birthday card (possibly from a former lover). Some of the more prosaic objects are a 1965 Francoise Bernard easy recipe cookbook (a must-have staple read for bachelors), and a copy of Kate Fox’s 2004 international bestseller ‘Watching the English’ (telling of how people of colour have to constantly learn and adapt to white culture to survive).
In terms of content and theme, the film is extremely relatable ─ anybody who is anybody has at some point, had to move or make major changes in their life, and felt scared about leaving behind what is familiar and comfortable. The film vaguely comments on the sense of dislocation people of colour experience in the western world, which is again, something a lot of people can personally connect with.
On the technical front, however, the film needed more polish and finesse to send across its message. Employing a lot of jump cuts, the editing can feel a bit too quick and jarring, lessening the impact of the objects-as-metaphors theme, and more sure-handed direction and fluid camera moments would have helped drive the point home more effectively. The film’s runtime is around three minutes, which gives the viewer a very small window to absorb the contents of the film. Personal films can be heart-wrenchingly moving and life-changing for viewers when executed the right way. As familiar as Water Walking may initially seem, and with many elements to admire, it ultimately ends up feeling a little too self-indulgent and abstract.