“Fear of Water”
Two Girls, One Summer
Director Kate Lane’s “Fear of Water” is the story of two girls with parallel lives and different socio-economic backgrounds that meet one summer and discover friendship. Sure, the theme sounds familiar and it is. We have had it hundreds of times so naturally you want to know what makes this film different. Let me just say early on that the difference comes in the execution. Alexia (Lily Loveless) and Eleanor (Chloe Partridge) become friends and lovers over one life-changing summer.
Eleanor and her family live in a “strict proper home with a planned future” but her family lives in silence. Alexia has quite a different home life because her family is poor. The summer the two met was very special— it was a for sharing both long summer days and “rushed first kisses”. transcend the search for her family’s next meal. As they were away from home life, the girls could test the precarious boundaries between class and love before realizing that such boundaries actually exist. When family tensions escalate, they stand up for one another without knowing what their brave acts of defiance really mean. Little by little, the girls conquer their fears, break out of their shells, and find happiness from unexpected sources. This summer becomes the summer when everything changes.
Following a tragic event, their paths collide together and they discover a deep friendship and a sexual awakening that changes them forever. The story is inspired by events from director Lane ‘s own life so she used her own life to give us a thought provoking Adolescence can be a very confusing and frightening time for many young women.
Eleanor’s father is a busy lawyer who has little time for her when she’s not away at boarding school. Alexia spends most of her time selling drugs and delivering newspapers thus helping her injured father and alcoholic mother make ends meet. Eleanor and Alexia begin to build a relationship that is romantic but is never consummated. Both young women briefly acknowledge they are queer without having any conversations or passionate moments with one another.
We see the similarities between the haves and the have nots and it is all a bit too predictable. Eleanor and Alexia help one another through familial circumstances and Eleanor’s fear of water. The problem I have here is that we never find out what either of the women are truly thinking or feeling. Many questions remain unanswered at the end, including those about both of their sexual identities and how they truly feel about themselves and each other. Their friendship does not have the kind of intensity that generally comes from coming-of-age romances, and it’s confusing when Alexia brushes away Eleanor’s kiss.
In a film was truly about a friendship blossoming and coming of age, we would expect seeing Alexia and Eleanor taking their relationship to the next step relationship take the next step. Instead we see two girls become friends and nothing more. Instead what we see is a very nice depiction of adolescence, awakening and responsibilities. Something was very definitely missing. This does not mean you cannot enjoy the film and I am quite sure that many will. The cast performs with excellence and the cinematography is gorgeous. Both girls are capable of caring even with her own personal problems to be capable and caring. Each girl has her own problems. We learn that–Alexia’s mother is gone, and her grandmother dies on the day after she returns from school for summer vacation. Eleanor’s father is disabled and not working and her mother sells marijuana as well as harder drugs. We see that their friendship appears is genuine and we want their relationship to succeed.