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Filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky's documentary Aquarela documents the terrifying and beautiful power of water.Courtesy of Mongrel Media

  • Aquarela
  • Directed by Victor Kossakovsky
  • Written by Viktor Kossakovsky and Aimara Reques
  • Classification: G
  • 90 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

Victor Kossakovsky’s mesmerizing and often harrowing Aquarela begins on Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal, which drivers race across in cars but fail to take into account the rapidly changing temperatures that have moved up the thawing season. Into the water they go. Responders chip away at the ice to get to someone below, but their equipment is wrong for the job.

Without any narration or talking heads, Kossakovsky’s cinematic globe-trotting documentary dazzles us with doom. The film is about the beauty and peril of water. Avalanches of snow cascade into the water – cathedrals falling. Icebergs off the coast of Greenland glide ominously like silent monsters, which is perhaps what they are. An overwhelmed dam in California floods communities downstream, while Hurricane Irma batters Miami relentlessly.

Aquarela’s soundtrack shifts from ambient post-rock to gnarly speed-metal to widescreen strings. The effect is a serenely apocalyptic warning: Climate change is a killer, with water as its indiscriminately lethal weapon.

Aquarela opens in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal on Aug. 23.

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