Kiss The Water (tbc)

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Eric Steel

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/01/2014

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 79 mins

Beautifully made and skilfully edited, this is a charming and fascinating documentary that brings an air of mystery and wonder to its subject.

What's it all about?
Directed by Eric Steel (who made 2006's The Bridge, about suicides on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge – well worth seeking out), Kiss The Water is a documentary portrait of Megan Boyd, a reclusive Scottish woman who became a legend within the fly fishing community for the detailed and beautiful tied fishing flies she spent her life creating. For most of her life, Boyd lived alone in a remote cottage without electricity on the north coast of Scotland, where she lived and worked until her retirement in 1986, following the detrimental failing of her eyesight; she died in 2001 at the age of 86. Her customers included Prince Charles and she was awarded the British Empire Medal, though she sent a message saying she couldn't attend to pick it up because she was playing bridge that night, so Prince Charles brought it up to her on his next visit.

The Good
Steel assembles the film using interviews with local residents, anglers and friends, all of whom are filmed against the same black backdrop and none of whom are identified onscreen with captions, giving the film the feel of an oral history. These are interspersed with stunningly beautiful shots of Scottish rivers and the salmon themselves, as well as shots of flies being tied and some beautiful hand-painted animated sequences by Em Cooper that seem like impressionistic oil paintings come to life.

The film is filled with quirky anecdotes of particular requests, such as a customer who asked Megan to tie a fly using feathers from their family parrot or a barmaid in Inverness who contributed her pubic hair for one of Boyd's flies known as the Hairy Mary. As such, a fascinating portrait of Boyd's artistry emerges (she often used feathers from extinct birds, for example) and there's a powerfully moving montage of telegrams and letters thanking Megan for her flies and talking warmly about the joy they have brought their owners.

The Great
Steel makes the intriguing decision not to show any images of Megan until right at the end; this contributes greatly to the sense of wonder and mystery engendered by the film, which seems entirely appropriate, not least because even the lifelong anglers freely admit that no-one actually knows why a salmon takes a fly. On top of that, there's a lovely score by Paul Cantelon that heightens the atmosphere of the film.

Worth seeing?
Superbly made and beautifully illustrated, Kiss the Water is an utterly charming and captivating documentary that is well worth seeking out. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 22/02/2019 18:18

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