'THE WATER MAN'
A Film Review by Kimberly Singleton
(Credit: RLJE Films)
Eleven-year-old Gunner Boone (Lonnie Chavis) loves to read and draw. His family recently moved to a new town and he has no friends. He spends time riding his bike and observing the town sights (including a funeral) to gather research for his graphic novel.
Gunner’s relationship with his father, Amos (David Oyelowo), is strained. Because Amos’ military service frequently kept him from home, he does not know simple things about Gunner, like his preference of reading over tossing a ball. This results in Gunner’s mother, Mary (Rosario Dawson), often mediating between father and son. Mary suffers from leukemia and while being the backbone of the family, must also face her own mortality.
In Gunner’s explorations about town, he learns of a mythical character, the Water Man. The legend is that the Water Man has healing powers; even the ability to raise the dead. Gunner meets a runaway, Jo (Amiah Miller), who claims to have seen the Water Man and knows where to find him. Gunner desperately wants to find a cure for his mother and pays Jo to accompany him in his trek through the forest to find this healer. The journey sets them both on a life-changing adventure.
The forest presents many dangers for the two young adventurers. A raging brush fire causes the authorities to re-direct their resources to find Gunner. Amos sets out to find his son, after they stop looking. The potential loss of Gunner displays the lengths a father will go, despite any differences.
This is David Oyelewo’s directorial debut. He was already confirmed as a producer and actor in the film and was asked to direct when the original director went to another project.
The action-adventure and supernatural aspects of the story drew Chavis to the project. He also could see himself in his character. Lonnie was also eleven at the time of filming and did a phenomenal job at carrying the movie as the lead.
“The Water Man” does an excellent job addressing the serious subjects of terminal illness and child abuse, while keeping it light-hearted enough to be a feel-good movie. This makes it attractive to children and adults, making it a true family movie.
“The Water Man” was released in theaters on May 7, 2021.