Hovering Over the Water

Hovering Over the Water ★★★★

All my days are memories of ghosts.”

if I could call any film I’ve seen to this point beguiling, it’d have to be this one. for the first 90 or so minutes, I was thrown off by the film’s perplexing precision. Hovering Over the Water blends romantic intrigue (guess you could call it love at first sight here), the mystery of welcoming a potentially dangerous stranger into your life, mounting tension, and even, albeit briefly, tense standoffs. it’s a film that also boasts vivid cinematography, those vibrant colours contrasting marble interiors, summer skies, and near pitch black darkness. its tone is, on the surface, confusing at first. what exactly is this film supposed to be? what is it trying to be? it took me a while to get fully settled in, which is to say that it took me a while to let the film take me on its journey. I don’t believe it was made to be this way, but I then think about how this film’s entire mood is murky from the beginning.

everything is almost too quiet, even for an idyllic coastline setting. this is compounded even more when we discover the town is seemingly under military rule, as Laura becomes subject to a routine traffic stop and her vehicle is searched by hostile soldiers. Robert is a man who almost literally washes up on the beach from out of nowhere. we’re thrown right into the mystery with Laura, yet we also grow to understand her intrigue. every conversation between Laura and Sara is handled with exquisite care, though to be honest this (the initial conversation scene in the dark outside) is also what threw me off initially. they’re having in-depth, truly eloquent conversations about a past that the audience wasn’t privy in the slightest to. you feel as if you’re eavesdropping, somehow spying on them in the nearby dark. I guess this is what lends one to feel the same ways Laura does when the strange, mysterious Robert enters her life: we, the audience, were intrigued by these women and their lives, now Laura finds a potential someone in Robert, and we get it.

for a story this straightforward, a lot of magic has to be done in the writing and production, and that’s certainly the case here. it’s a movie that works precisely because of its style, its visuals that enrapture, and how that style blends with the thematic elements of the story: Laura’s haunted heart, the unknown and unlikely nature of their future together, can be found in those deep hues of blue, or the optimistic light sky blue, or perhaps a lamp illuminating her shadow (may as well be her soul) in the dark onto the stark marble wall.

Robert himself feels like an upheaval in the bourgeois, steady life of Laura and her family. even the maid, in an absolutely touching scene with a great use of a tracking zoom, is nearly in tears over his simple kindness and acknowledgment towards her for preparing a meal. Laura’s children love him, for he isn’t a man that will replace their late father, but rather the fun uncle who tells fantastical stories and seems like a genuine rebel. that rebellious appeal translates to Laura’s younger sister Rosa, who also winds up, well, loving Robert a bit too much. the oldest sister, Sara, is wary. from previous scenes, we know her and Laura haven’t always had the best relationship, but that happens sometimes with siblings. and though Robert’s presence causes great turmoil briefly when the armed men show up, they forgive him almost immediately after that ends, for they truly enjoy and value his presence. the ghosts of past loves continually plague Laura, she doesn’t have to verbally acknowledge it when we see that she isn’t even fully relaxed when sunbathing. still, the intrigue grows to love, and the scene in which they finally give in and kiss was when the film started to click for me.

however, *brief SPOILERS ahead*, while it did make sense for her to stop him (she doesn’t want to remember him, doesn’t want him to become another ghost in her mind), the twist of having Rosa seduce Robert did throw me for a loop at first. but then it made sense: what better way to get Laura to not only forget him (though I doubt she ever truly will, and vice-versa), but to also not carry any regrets in doing so. it also made the scene in which Laura realises what happened all the more heartbreaking. a heartbroken soul only knows how to replicate, or search for, heartbreak, even when they’re dying for anything else.

the more I though about this film, the more I understand, and appreciate it. while its overall tone does cause the film to feel lacking in some key moments, I can’t help but admire the mystifying results overall.

and that final line, with that accompanying image, will without question become a new favourite of mine.

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