TIFF Next Wave: Wet Bum
Rare is the film that is able to transport the viewer to deep dark uncomfortable places, while not showing or portraying anything particularly explicit on screen.
This is the feat managed by writer-director Lindsay MacKay in her first feature length film. From the opening shot featuring important characters falling backwards, to a closing shot that brings the film full circle, and somehow back to the start, Wet Bum is far chillier and darker than the title and promotional material lead us to believe.
Credit lead actress and TIFF Rising Star Julia Sarah Stone for her remarkable performance as Sam, a teenager that has yet to grow into her body, and frightened to change in front of the girls in her swim class, leaving her with a wet bum to bring to her cleaning job accompanying her mother, (Leah Pinsent). Wet Bum carries with it a sense of timelessness and placelessness; it is not so much temporal and spatial, but emotional and ethereal, which is certainly driven by MacKay’s muted colours and Brendan Canning’s chilly soundtrack.
Perhaps only in a film like Wet Bum could the character of Lukas, a young swim coach, (played by Degrassi alum Craig Arnold, haunting), be so transformative in a range of temperaments in just one single scene.
What is most needed to power the engine of Wet Bum, for the film to feel so unsettling and yet all too human is the steeliness of Stone. Sullenly determined one moment, joking and retorting the next, but never irresolute, Stone provides the grounding on which Wet Bum sits upon.