As a child, one of my favorite things to do was watch The Wonderful World of Disney and projects the The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. As an adult, I was in the ugly cry right along with the rest of the world when watching ‘E.T.’ So it suffices to say that fantasy, adventure family films are my jam.
When the word went out David Oyelowo and Oprah was teaming up for his directorial debut with an imaginative, family-friendly adventure called The Water Man. This tale follows a sensitive young boy Gunner (Lonnie Chavis) as he embarks on a mission to help his gravely ill mother (Rosario Dawson) by locating the mythic Water Man, who may carry the secret to everlasting life.
Gunner and his Mom share a special bond, as she supports his daydreaming and artistic pursuits. On the flip side while his father, Amos (who Gunner shares a strained relationship), has other ideas concerning where his son’s interests should lie. When Gunner and his rebellious friend Jo (Amiah Miller) go missing during their quest into the Water Man’s mysterious forest, Amos must immerse himself in his son’s world to find them and put his family back together.
Based on a script by Emma Needell (which was featured on the 2015 Black List), The Water Man flips back to the beloved childhood adventure films of the 80s, combining family drama, fantasy, and a courageous journey asking a simple question…where do we go when we die?.
As a filmmaker, Oyelowo masterfully captures the emotional struggles that inhabits a family and the impending loss of a loved one through child’s view of the world and heart. Beautifully shot in the gorgeous backdrop of Portland, Oregon, a shot filming the family navigating through a river in the throws of escaping a fire, in addition to to nail biting scene with Jo and Gunner is absolutely spectacular. ‘Caleb’s Lullaby’ written by Jessica Oyelowo and performed by Rosario Dawson is the cherry on top the the perfect cake batter mixed by David O.
The Water Man leaves you asking the burning question of if you had to choose between a short life with a loved one or a long one, which would YOU choose. For me, I would choose hope every time. Hope is a powerful force and will make you see what you want to see. It is my wish that hope is what drives folks to screen The Water Man in its post festival life.