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This wide-ranging documentary diverts its flow a little too frequently.

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Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky (Canada, Special Presentations)
2 5stars


Friday, September 6, 7 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 (350 King Street West)

Sunday, September 8, 9 a.m.
Scotiabank Theatre 13 (259 Richmond Street West)

A documentary on humanity’s relationship with water, Watermark captivates with some truly spectacular imagery even as it frustrates with its lack of clarity.

The film goes in many directions, covering everything from humanity’s exploitation of freshwater reserves, to water’s religious impact. This thematic breadth comes at the cost of coherence, making it difficult for a viewer to become fully engaged. Seeing rice farming in the Yunan, the US Surfing Open, and the slow death of the Colorado river in one movie begins to feel like playing a game of One of These Things is not Like the Other.

Still, the images on display are stunning, even hauntingly beautiful. Burtynsky’s experience as a photographer is put to good use. Damming projects loom like monoliths, dying tributaries are bleak and compelling all at once. At times, the documentary is almost an elegy for water—but it’s also any number of other things, each a documentary unto itself.

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