by Marta Bałaga
- BERLINALE 2021: Tim Fehlbaum summons the moist ghost of Kevin Costner in Waterworld and proves that dry land is indeed a myth
Starting off in a promisingly trashy way, with a solemn voice telling someone not to be scared (they should be) and giving a useful list of all the things that went wrong, also in 2020 by the way (“Climate change. Pandemic. War”), it's back to dirty rags and a whole lotta water – so much, in fact, that there are 14 words to describe it – in Tim Fehlbaum's Berlinale's Berlinale Special offering Tides [+see also:
film profile]. It’s yet another title proving that this year's programming is truly all over the place, but then again, who doesn't like some surprises?
Smartly disposing of the need for any potentially costly scenes with a short summary about the Earth being uninhabitable now, fully submerged, and some “ruling elite” buggering off to Kepler 209 already a while ago, it's then time to – surprise! – bring some of them back. Maybe they were just bored, also because escaping the Earth came at a price: Kepler's citizens are now completely sterile. Two astronauts, including Louise Blake (Nora Arnezeder), run into problems early on – namely, local scavengers who unceremoniously dump her and the barely surviving other crew member (Sope Dirisu) into a pit, still fully expecting to be healed by her whenever the need arises. But there is no time to harbour resentment, as one attack later, the only choice is to join forces. Again – who doesn't like some surprises?
It needs to be said that Tides – filmed in English, which might improve its post-festival prospects, as will boasting the presence of the Roland Emmerich among its executive producers – actually looks very good. This is mostly thanks to DoP Markus Förderer, who also handled Independence Day: Resurgence, and that’s meant as a good thing here. With everyone perpetually wet, hair glued to the forehead, Arnezeder fits the part, too, in her John McClane-ish wife beater. The way she looks at the children, or reacts to getting her period again, implies a longing that life on Kepler just couldn't quite quench, and she delivers these lines like she means them. But ultimately, she has nothing to do, burdened with daddy issues that are now obligatory in these kinds of films, it seems, from Inception to Ad Astra and back.
Taking place at least 100 years after the moon landing, commemorated by a pretty box of matches passed around as a family heirloom, still not much has changed since Waterworld and its “Don't just stand there, kill something!” message. It's almost odd how dull this story gets, livened up just for a moment by Game of Thrones' Iain Glen showing up, smirking ominously. And it’s also strange how familiar it all feels, more of a compilation of recognisable traits than a film in its own right. Then again, some might say we like what we know.
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