Punishment to fit the crime has always been a question hotly debated, followed closely by who is deemed worthy to even make such decisions. Is that avid user of illegal narcotics fit enough to judge a narcotics dealer - who sells to teens? Is a white-collar con man worthy to judge a rapist? How about a victim of childhood sexual abuse? Are they worthy to pass judgment on a pedophile - or are their personal opinions far too skewed to properly do the job? Writing a completely spoiler-free review of this particular film is tough, because the story is so completely relevant to what I have to say in order to cover the content - so I'll try and keep my spoilers broad and limited to the first and second acts. One thing is for sure, "Wade In The Water" starts off as any decent drama should, perhaps with even some hints of the comedy genre - and then separates itself almost completely from the pack. As for being a lower-budget indie flick, let me just say that "Wade In The Water" definitely doesn't look the part. There's nothing cheap here, this is indie done very, very well - no question.
The protagonist in this film represents the blue-collar every man. I use the term blue-collar loosely because he works from home, but the representation still holds. So much in fact, that he isn't even given a name. The hero of this film, if that's what you wish to call him, is a bachelor living in a tiny apartment. He's anti-social and doesn't seem to care, he's also somewhat of a slob - the single dude living an average single life. No close family, no friends, and no real cares. It's only when he accidentally acquires a disc full of child porn that a fire is lit under his ass. This accidental acquisition hits our every man right where it hurts - because we learn he is the son of a sexually abusive father - a man of cloth no less and yes reader, that factors into the story.
With a new lease on life and a purpose, our hero sets out to not only change his ways somewhat, but to find and kill the man who was supposed to receive the disc. Everything seems to be moving forward the way it should. Daily walks/jogs, a more healthy diet, the purchase of a gun, and the scoping out of his intended victim. Why shouldn't this man pay? He's a pedophile and according to an internet search, he's been one for a long time. Finally, the murderous deed is done and our hero almost turns the gun on himself... almost. It's at this point, that this movie truly begins. What you ask? That's not even the main story? You see reader, the murdered pedophiles' daughter is able to piece together who killed her father - and she wants to meet him in person. Thus begins "Wade In The Water" as it truly is, a relationship between a murderer and the daughter of the victim. I said this story was unique, and I really wasn't lying.
So, as I've said above, the real beauty of this film is the unique and interesting story - penned excellently by Chris Retts. "Wade In The Water" is not what you think it will be, but then again, perhaps it is... just a little. When I write about a relationship being formed between the two leading characters, it's not a sexual one. It's not even really one of friendship - rather one of curiosity and perhaps empathy. The changing it up of the story more closely resembles what I wrote in the first paragraph of this write-up - and even that is not quite correct. This is a film that you'll really have to watch in order to understand and appreciate. I'll just leave it at that.
As for the technical aspects of this film, I was pleasantly surprised. As written above, this is a great looking - and sounding movie. It never strives to be anything over the top or grandiose, rather keeps things simple, tight, and to the point. In doing so, "Wade In The Water" keeps its grounded pacing while looking quite sharp as it does. Even the characters are only used as needed and to great effect. Observing the lonely life of our nameless, leading character is brilliantly brought home, even more when you realize the closest thing to a friend he has is the employee at his favorite burger joint. A lot of thought has gone into keeping things achievable on a modest budget, and done right. As for the acting itself? The entire film is carried on the shoulders of our two leading actors - and as I'm sure you've guessed from the number of stars I've awarded, the results are fantastic.
"Wade In The Water" starts off reasonably light and perhaps even comedic - but manages to plant the seeds of what it actually is early on. The transition to full-blown dark drama is close to seamless... maybe not perfect, but close to it. This is a flick that really held my eyes from start to finish - and this was all achieved by the story itself, and the talented people in front of and behind the camera. I'm thrilled to give my personal recommendation when it comes to this flick, and it earns a stellar four and a half stars. Well done.