Aquarela is about 90 minutes of water in various stages of life, from waves to glaciers, with occasional heavy-metal cello music blaring. It’s not nearly as interesting as it could be, in part because it has no sense of rhythm to it. It’s a bulleted list of footage rather than a poem written with images.
Director Viktor Kossakovsky attempts a non-narrative documentary approach popularized by the Qatsi trilogy and Baraka back in the 1990s, which invited the viewer to absorb the uniquely entwined visuals and music as part of a socially conscious, almost spiritual travelogue. Aquarela feels like Kossakovsky filmed several gigabytes of footage but never quite figured out how to link it to something of substance. The music is so intermittent as to never feel like it’s part of the movie’s soul, serving as more of an alarm clock for dozing audiences rather than an accompaniment.
Still, some of the footage is captivating in chunks. The opening portions about rescuing a car stuck under ice are pretty illuminating. Watching glaciers flow by and collapse only gets old after the 10th minute or so. The first nine are reasonable. Waves are pretty cool. Ice! Water, water everywhere. Not much else to think.