Film Review by Kam Williams
Life Stinks for Smelly Kid in Droll Coming-of-Age Dramedy
Mica (Douglas Smith) had the misfortune of being born with a congenital condition that has him smelling like a fish. His parents (Ariadna Gil and Don McKellar) took him to a doctor who diagnosed the disease as Trimethylaminuria, an incurable body odor syndrome, and basically threw up his hands.
It didn’t help matters that Mica’s father abandoned the family soon thereafter, leaving the boy to be raised by an eccentric mother in a house converted into a museum dedicated to the memory of an obscure Mexican musician. Understandably, the lad grew up very lonely and increasingly dependent upon his empathetic shrink (Carrie-Anne Moss) as a steady tether to reality.
Otherwise, Mica’s formative years were virtually friendless, with a cute girl named Laura (Zoe Kravitz) being the only kid willing to attend any of his birthday parties. For some unknown reason, she wasn’t bothered by his overpowering skunk musk. So, it’s no surprise that traumatized Mica’s secret crush on her might endure past the puppy love stage and well into puberty.
That’s the setup of Treading Water, a droll dramedy marking the intriguing screenplay and directorial debut of Mexico’s Analeine Cal y Mayor. The talented Latina was ostensibly inspired to write the script by a newspaper article she read in Spain, although this escapist fantasy is more akin to magical realism than anything resembling traditional journalism.
The film’s title can be explained by the fact that Mica started spending a lot of his free time in swimming pools after discovering that being immersed in water helped suppress his godawful stench. It is while swimming that he reconnects with Laura for the first time in ages, and he proceeds to make the most of a second chance to make an aromatic impression.
Credit co-stars Douglas Smith and Zoe Kravitz for generating just the right chemistry as endearing oddballs to turn this quirky coming-of-age adventure into an appealing romantic romp.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 87 minutes
Distributor: The Orchard
To see a trailer for Treading Water, visit: