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River

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
River
Photograph: Dogwoof
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Serenity, wonderment and worry mix in this awe-inspiring, musical tour of the Earth’s waterways

Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa) and Joseph Nizeti’s sparklingly visual, Nat Geo-like tour of the world’s great waterways wants to dazzle us and shake us from our complacency – and it manages both in style. It’s celebratory in its first reel, plain scary in its second, and with the help of some bonus Radiohead, just soothing enough at the last to pull you out of a doom spiral. Willem Dafoe’s gravelly tones emphasise the harsh reality that our relationship with rivers has become an abusive one. But, happily, the conclusion here is that it isn’t too late to course-correct.

It’s all set to the cascading strings of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Willem Dafoe’s gravelly tones, and will look – and sound – absolutely breathtaking on the big screen.

Its environmental message is a harsh one: co-directors Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa) and Joseph Nizeti’s action-movie camerawork and glorious landscapes give way to the harsh reality that our relationship with rivers has become an abusive one. Snaking watercourses are diverted where they were never due to travel; dams have sucked the nurturing silt from the water, depleting the soil downstream; and plastic chokes torrential flows like a garrote.

Willem Dafoe’s gravelly tones emphasise the reality that our relationship with rivers has become abusive 

Happily, the conclusion here is that it isn’t too late to course-correct. There’s even uplifting evidence, delivered in a montage of exploding dams, that humanity is trying to set right its mistakes. But then when Dafoe growls that the Earth’s biggest dams have impounded so much water that ‘they’ve slowed the rotation of the earth’ and it’s hard not to wonder if we don’t need to do a lot more.

In UK cinemas Mar 18.

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Cast and crew

  • Director:Jennifer Peedom, Joseph Nizeti
  • Screenwriter:Willem Dafoe
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