By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Typically, the expression “ugh” comes to mind when I think about reviewing romantic comedies. There really is only so much one can do with such a story without wearing out the usual cliches and tropes. Still, I tried to view this movie with an open mind and a positive attitude. Treading Water doesn’t reinvent the romantic comedy, but is never heavy-handed and too obvious about its adoption of these cliches and tropes. That in itself is refreshing. Also, the film does feature some lovable characters and amusing scenarios that make the movie highly watchable and enjoyable.
Since the day he was born, Mica’s (Douglas Smith) troubles began. Born with a rare medical condition, Mica’s skin smells rather fishy. This condition makes for a difficult childhood and causes a strong insecurity about himself which affects his love life as a young adult. In addition to his personal problems, Mica must also deal with the fact that his home is a museum dedicated to Mexican singer Guillermo Garibay (Gonzalo Vega), a projected headed by his loving, but unconventional mother (Ariadna Gil). When a sweet and attractive young lady named Laura (Zoe) takes a romantic interest in Mica, the young man has no clue how to handle this or deal with his problem and the insecurities that result from it.
Written by Analeine Cal y Mayor and Javier Guillon, and directed by Cal y Mayor, Treading Water is actually a very sweet and amusing romantic tale. Cal y Mayor and Guillon do a great job developing the character of Mica by taking the audience through his rough childhood and leading us up to “the present” where he remains mostly isolated and lonely. The film does cover some of the familiar cliches and tropes, but treads on these lightly which takes away a lot of the cringe factor often associated with this type of movie. The writer/director does have a unique and eclectic sense of humor and this is clearly reflected in the comedic scenes. The movie does leave me wanting stronger and funnier scenes of comedy, but I am grateful that most of the humor never feels forced. In fact, I think Cal y Mayor’s subtle approach to the entire movie definitely lends to my enjoyment of it.
I also enjoyed the performances of the cast, particular Smith and Kravitz who share a lovely onscreen chemistry. Ariadna Gil offers a warm and lovely performance as Mica’s mother and Guillermo Garibay fanatic. Carrie-Anne Moss delivers an amiable turn as Catherine, Mica’s therapist. As the incomparable Guillermo Garibay, Gonzalo Vega literally shines and performs exceptionally. His appearance in the film is actually one of my favorite moments and it certainly added to my overall enjoyment of the film.
While I was not completely blown away with this movie, I do like it very much and would recommend it for those seeking a slightly different flavor on a date night. Treading Water is now available on Video on Demand via iTunes, Amazon, Youtube, Sony Network, XBOX, VUDU, Vubiquity and DirectTV, and will open in some select theaters on March 13, including New York’s Cinema Village.