Michael Oblowitz annals the profession of Nathan Fletcher, a surf-dynasty heir who longs to push the sport forward.
Less group of spectators grasping than most surf documentaries that make it to the extra large screen, Michael Oblowitz’s Heavy Water will play best to those acquainted with its cast of characters — from contemporary stars like the late Andy Irons right back to the pioneers who lived on Oahu during the 1940s. Subject Nathan Fletcher’s grandfather Walter Hoffman had a place with the last group, and sired a dynasty of celebrated surfers. In its insidery way, Heavy Water indicates how Fletcher has attempted to add new achievements to that legacy, taking a chance with his life as he does it.
Raised in a family of surfers, Nathan had a portion of his thunder stolen by his older sibling Christian, a pioneer in bringing skateboarding-inspired moves to wave-riding. The film downplays this, rather emphasizing Nathan’s friendship with Jay Adams, an influential skateboarder (Dogtown and Z-Boys) who additionally surfed, hurdling up out of waves to pivot in the air.
Nathan reviews how Adams and others brought punk attitude to a sport known for feel-great vibes. He has scarcely begun setting the scene when he finishes up, “At a certain point, everybody just went too far, so they went to jail.” That appears suddenly, and is promptly dropped, enabling everyone to expect individuals were imprisoned for negligible drug violations. (Indeed, Adams served a half year for felony attack in the wake of insulting a gay couple in 1982.)
Narrating is scrappy like this through a large portion of the doc. During a period when Fletcher surrendered his real-world responsibilities to live in a van as a pro surfer, he recalls that, “I came up with all these robots…,” however the movie couldn’t care less what he implies by that. Nor does it care if newbies understand how surfboard design affects movement in the water: In a long sequence, everyone get notification from a designer Fletcher worked with, who depicts how he reached out here, shaved there, and thickened somewhere else. Another film may plug in a bit of animation to clarify the physics of these innovations; here, everybody are relied upon to get it.
The doc is progressively intensive in depicting a portion of the threats of surfing in certain well known spots, and it utilizes the deaths of two of Fletcher’s surfing companions to mark a dramatic turning point: After he has a particularly effective session in the waves, Fletcher asserts there was a “karmic connection” between their sacrifice and his great day.
Heavy Water’s final quarter-hour narratives the development to a trick Fletcher sees as his shot at immortality: the “Acid Drop,” in which he (or his sponsor) enlists a helicopter to drop him over an enormous wave. The logistics of this recommends incredible drama, yet — on the screen, at any rate — the genuine occasion disappoints.
Production organizations: Minus Zero Films, All Edge Entertainment, Red Bull Media House
Distributor: Fathom Events
Director-screenwriter: Michael Oblowitz
Producers: Michael Oblowitz, Carter Slade, Douglas Kaplan
Executive producers: Patrick DePeters, Matthew Helderman, Luke Dylan Taylor
Directors of photography: Brendon O’Neal, Michael Oblowitz, Orson Oblowitz
Editor: Carter Slade
Composers: Peter DiStefano, Paul Fuller