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‘Drowning’ review: Intimate portrayal of moving forward will resonate

Lack of subtlety is not always a bad thing.

Drowning from writer-director-star Melora Walters uses a common technique in film. Many movies (and stories in general) use metaphors to handle a theme. Set during the Obama administration, The movie is about Rose (Walters), whose son Charlie (Sergio Rizzuto) has been deployed to Iraq. Naturally, Rose has to deal with grief, depression, and anger.

The movie takes its title from Rose’s fear of water – more specifically of drowning. Rose begins to take swimming lessons to overcome her fear. This leads to her discovering a new life.  Drowning sounds like it will be heavy handed. The analogy between Rose’s fear and the emotion she is dealing with is an obvious one. The fact that she works in a bookstore (that specializes in art) only seems to validate the story will be more about aesthetics that true emotion.

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The movie is never as graceless as the synopsis would suggest. Instead, Drowning is an intimate and quiet look at acceptance. Buoyed by strong performances, the film is able to effectively tell its story. Walters own son was deployed to Iraq and Syria. Her movie is written from a place of experience and it shows. Walters provides a powerful performance that puts her feelings on full display. There is a natural quality to Rose that will make her familiar to audiences.

Rose is surrounded by friends and teachers who want to help her. Mira Sorvino is wonderful as Mary, Rose’s friend and the owner of the bookstore Rose works at. She is very charming and funny. Gil Bellows and Jay Mohr are also excellent in important supporting roles. Drowning is an emotional film that can easily become overly dramatic. Bellows and Mohr anchor the more emotionally packed moments and keep things from becoming too over the top.

Drowning is a personal movie that deals in feelings. It is a character driven film that brings audiences into its small world. The plot does not worry about big set pieces or grandiose moments. There is a more careful story being told here. The patient pacing maximizes storytelling that draws out the full emotion of its tale.

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