Water Lilies

Critics Consensus

Water Lilies is a sharply-observed, provocative coming-of-age story that captures the anxieties of the early teen years.



Total Count: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,138
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Movie Info

Three 15-year-old girls living in the ultra-modern Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise find the dynamics of their relationships gradually beginning to shift in first-time filmmaker Céline Sciamma's intimate look into the world of synchronized swimming. Floriane (Adele Haenel) is a beautiful blonde with a perfect body and remarkable talent in the pool. Marie (Pauline Acquart) is something of a tomboy taken to water, and Anne (Louise Blachere) is an overweight-but-outgoing swimmer whose crush on a male swimmer (who only has eyes for the physically flawless Floriane) is about to forever change the way these three disparate souls relate to one another.


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Critic Reviews for Water Lilies

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (10)

  • A fascinating exploration of female friendship, love, manipulation, betrayal and healing.

    Jul 31, 2008 | Full Review…
  • A narrowly interesting story by French writer-director CÃ (C)line Sciamma about three girls whose lives are connected by synchronized swimming.

    Jul 25, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • While it never quite reaches Jack T. Ripper levels of absurdity, Water nonetheless drowns out its science with hazy spirituality and utterly preposterous claims. In the end, it all smells fishy.

    Apr 17, 2008 | Full Review…

    Andrew Barker

    Top Critic
  • Celine Sciamma's quiet drama has moments of motionless yearning that contrast the intense emotions of its 15-year-old protagonists.

    Apr 4, 2008 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • The original French title of this flick translates as Birth of Octopuses, and it's a more accurate description of the complicated relationships in this well-acted coming-of-age story, the impressive debut of filmmaker Céline Sciamma.

    Apr 4, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A hypnotic and wholly convincing look at teen culture from the inside, with all its courage, cruelty and unspoken codes of silence intact.

    Apr 4, 2008

Audience Reviews for Water Lilies

  • Mar 16, 2010
    A very good and captivating film about the he friendship and the first sexual feelings by three teenage girls... All this is sublimated through the underwater synchronic swimming scenes. All three girls in the movie try to find and express their personality in a very different way. The magic of the movie lies in its capacity to bring back many memories to how it felt like to be their age. The confusion and the insecurities are portrayed in a very simple way but so true to life. The music is perfect and the acting is amazing. The camera works beautifully also and especially in under water scenes ?.
    Arianeta L Super Reviewer
  • Aug 28, 2009
    A coming of age movie about two friends who are going through the struggles of fitting in and being wanted. They go through it differently, one wants a boy who is not at all interested in her and the main character is infatuated with a pretty girl who gets all the boys attention. This film surprised me, I didn't expect to really like it, but I do.
    Nani V Super Reviewer
  • Apr 08, 2009
    "water lilies" is a coming-of-age lesbian tale, seemingly designed for the interests of certain restricted group of audience. but the issue of psychological developments is universally recognized rather than a propaganda to politically patronize a certain sort of lifestyle as homosexual movies tend to be at the most of time. basically it's a story about a flat-chested lean-figured tomboyish girl's(marie) obssesion over the lead ballerina(floriane) in school's synchronized swimming team as well as her sympathetic friendship with her obese nymphomaniac friend (anne) who craves the attention of boys from sportsteam. marie has a crush over floriane as awestricken by floriane's fair poise around the pool, so she begs to be a groupie to watch them practice, then marie becomes the accomplice who connives floriane's promiscuity by being a front excuse to facilitate floriance making out with her male pursuers. angered by floriane's apathetic usage, marie decides to walk off the set, but disuaded by floriane. then eventually the charm gal, the proud queen bee starts to confess how sexually frigid she is, afraid to bleed by penetration(the truth is she's a virgin) but she has to act sluttish so she could remain her reputation as the most wanted girl in school. so marie gets to be acquainted with her crush who's in need of companionship since all the girls hates this flaunting "floozie". one day floriane requests the shocking impossible, she wants to be deflowered by marie. meanwhile marie's overweight friend who suffers from the common nymphomaniac sympton in adolescence gets laid with floriane's boyfriend who's agitated by floriane's constant refusal after being aroused so often so he seeks whoever's handy over there for instant gratification. so what would happen to these three young girls who seem to be dazed by their present loss of orientation in life? there's nothing sensual about water lilies since none of these females enjoy the notion of sex, and sex is more of a political instrument to announce your status among the peers. ironically the glamourous aphrodite's frightened by sex despite the enormous sex appeal she radiates. even the lovelorn fat girl doesn't love sex but repulsed over it afterwards. sex is nothing enjoyable but an approach to reassure your self-worth or demonstration of your personal buoyancy. womanhood is something they fear but pathetically confined by the attention of opposite sex since girls would also judge and discriminate each other by the popularity with boys. it's a grim truth of puberty, totally salvage and politically incorrect. those who live thru or survive over such brutal mental ordeal fledge into womanhood; those who don't just conform to the gender system on the surface despite numerous issues with men (sex frigidity may be one thing) or choose the path of lesbianism. that's the awkward fact most women wanna bury deeply within you when you attain the state of full blossom. undeniably this movie still sets out in the perspective of lesbian, marie, whose world has no consequence with boys, but she's also rejected and withdrawn from the mainstream, alone and friendless, except her companionship with another discriminated girl who's being rebuffed for her body shape. none of them truthfully care for boys who are only signifiers for social functionality. (and the boys don't care about girls except for their sex?) marie is the only one who's true to herself, willing to reconcile that but she's devastated by this system. is it saying lesbianism is the truth of life? or this is a movie about three half-baked little lesbians and their issue to come out of closet? so it's after all a homosexual-centered movie without universal consensus? perhaps sometimes repressed love might have more sparkles of smoldering intensities than the usual love affairs, romantic in its autistically volcanic way. footnote: repressed love sucks. it's better to have no love at all in you, whether it's straight love or homo-love. just as "mad men" says in its first episode: INVENTED WANT, just like advertisement.
    Veronique K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 01, 2009
    The typical beautiful, sexy and mean teenager girl that all boys want to sleep with and that girls hate for being a bitchy. <br/>A beautiful skinny kid look-a-like outsider girl and her dumb and over weight (of course!) friend. The "friendship redemption" at the end. The swimming-pool first representing unbreathing situations, always enclosed into the fake and hard world of the synchronized swimming, turns out to bring some relief at the end of the film, showed in all its large extension for the first time . Marie washing her mouth in the swimming-pool afetr kissing Floriane was one of the strongest and significative scenes. <br/> <br/>All the expected, but pretty good as well. Fucking Åmål (which I think it´s superior) without parents intervention, judgements and a "happy" end. <br/> <br/><br/>
    Rubia Super Reviewer

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