After developing several successful shorts, writer and director Lucy Brydon has now made an ambitious and emotionally arresting feature film. Body of Water is receiving its world premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival 2020 with several members of the cast and crew in attendance at a sold-out screening in the cinema space at the CCA.
Body of Water follows single mother Stephanie (Sian Brooke) as she leaves a care facility for people with eating disorders. She finds herself back home where her mother (Amanda Burton) is getting married, and her teenage daughter Pearl (Fabienne Piolini-Castle) is struggling with the restlessness of youth. Pearl is also expressing behaviours that mirror her estranged mother, which is a great concern for all. Stephanie desperately attempts to reconnect with her daughter and relies on the support of care worker Shaun (Nick Blood) whose intentions may not be as pure and caring as first thought. The connection between mother and daughter appears to be Stephanie’s lifeline and her way back to a full recovery from the anorexia that has devastated her life.
Body of Water is a pensive film that uses pale and placid colour schemes to express the emotion, pain and turmoil of the lead character. This, along with the measured and caring approach to an important and imperative subject matter, makes the film feel like a bold and vital piece of storytelling. The journey that Stephanie goes on can be a frustrating one to witness. She desperately attempts to bond with her daughter, but finds herself alienated and this sets her on a downward spiral. Her eating disorder has greatly affected her physical and mental health and Stephanie’s successful career as a war photographer feels behind her. Brydon presents this frustration in a beautifully crafted script that suggests a complicated backstory. This leaves the viewer in the position of joining the dots to determine how Stephanie found herself in the position she is currently in. We are made to work for the answers and this experience highlights the struggles of the protagonist.
Sound design by Carine Koleilat and the music of Rory Attwell play a major role in conveying the isolation and frustration of the lead character. Subtle sound effects and imposing drone soundscapes create a claustrophobic and imposing environment that reflect the turmoil, indecisiveness and passion of Stephanie. She clearly wants to get better, but the reality of her situation always seems to drag her down.
The conclusion of Body of Water feels inevitable, with the final scene being eluded to throughout the movie. Nevertheless, the plight of Stephanie feels emotional and vivid, where mental health, family relationships and eating disorders are presented in a bold, powerful and gripping drama.