Staring Julia Sarah Stone, Craig Arnold and Jamie Johnston
There is nothing more Canadian than a coming of age story. After all, we did give the world Degrassi, even if it did take a few decades for the rest of the world to finally catch on to it. Coming of age stories are what we seem to do well, and Lindsay Mackay’s new film fits right into this sub-genre. Not only does it tell the story of a 14-year-old girl dealing with things like death and sexuality, it is so intrinsically “Canadian” from start to finish that viewing this film has an odd familiarity about it.
Sam (Julia Sarah Stone) used to have friends, but since the rest of the girls have hit puberty and grown breasts and the like, she has been left behind, even by her own best friend. She is ridiculed during swim practice, and during school hours, and finds little solace in her after school job at the nursing home her mother runs. Until she meets Judith (Diana Leblanc), a resident at the home who never speaks, but with whom Sam feels a connection. Eventually her swimming instructor begins to show an interest in her, and things seem to be going well.
As this is a Canadian film dealing with teenage issues, not much happens to Sam as she begins to learn about life and sex through the meetings and passings of various people in her life. It is subtle, but lacks a certain beauty that a film like this needs to help carry the story along. Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning provides the score and it is an absolutely beautiful touch to a film that seems to be lacking in plot.
Mackay comes from a background of short films about adolescent discovery, and WET BUM feels like a short that was dragged on for far too long. The performance by Stone is impeccable though and she carries most of the film, but there is something lacking that many audience members will struggle with. And as is the case with many Canadian films, it is difficult to identify exactly what that is.