Whilst looking online for a film to watch, I saw numerous titles that didn’t leap out, that was until I saw “The Boy Who Smells Like Fish”. Now that’s a title that jumps off of the page, although it turns out that it was actually released in 2013 as “Treading Water”.
I quickly looked up the trailer and the IMDB rating and I was genuinely surprised to see that it only had 390 votes on that site. That is one of the lowest vote counts that I’ve seen for a film that I intend to review, and based on that I knew that there wasn’t a reason for skipping by this.
That being said, the rating of 6.2/10 out of ten doesn’t fill me with hope that this is a film that either excites, or bores to tears. Even the trailer makes it look fairly unremarkable, and that might explain why a lot of people seem to have generally avoided this film, or why many won’t have heard of it.
Newborn Mica (Young – Bridger, Teenager – Smith) is taken home for the first time by Sophie (Gil) and Richard (McKellar) , but everyone who comes in contact with him notices that he smells of fish. Growing up in a museum dedicated to singer Guillermo Garibai, the numerous visitors also notice the unusual smell, but Mica soon meets Laura (Teenager – Kravitz) and the two share a bond before he accidentally offends her at his birthday party.
Richard soon leaves the family, and Sophie is killed just seconds after going on holiday when she is flattened by a van. Trying to cope with his psychologist since childhood, Catherine (Moss), Mica struggles to see the point in doing anything, although he has developed a strong passion for swimming due to it hiding his smell. One day he is approached by Laura (although he doesn’t know it’s her) and they two start a relationship).
Bang average and completely unremarkable.
I waited until the day after watching the film to write this specific section and I’m not going to lie, other than the notes I have written, “Treading Water” is completely unmemorable. It is, as I pondered in the opening section, a film that is completely average, being neither good nor bad, and this for me is a big problem.
Ultimately you don’t care about the characters in the slightest. Mica doesn’t seemingly have a personality trait that doesn’t revolve around his smell, and the character of Laura is just there, she offers nothing overly impactful to the story. It feels like a forced romance from the first meeting between the two as youngsters, and nothing about the 85 minute film feels natural. Even Smith and Kravitz seem unconvinced by their characters as neither put in a particularly interesting display.
Don’t get me wrong, “Treading Water” isn’t an awful film, but there is precisely nothing that makes me want to watch it again, and there isn’t really a single likeable character. Sophie is painfully one dimensional and I refuse to believe that any museum that is basically someone’s home that has been dedicated to a long retired singer would get as many visitors as the film suggests.
Away from the characters, the story itself is a case of missed potential and could have been done so more. Mica smelling of fish seems almost like a subplot in the film and other than a brief flash of the air freshener that he wears to hide to smell, he’s fish-like smell is barely mentioned in the second half of the film, and almost seems like it’s forgotten. It would have been slightly more interesting had she visually made reference to the smell at some point during the film, therefore having to get over it, but she never does. Whilst it’s a nice sentiment that she ignored his smell and got to no him, there’s no proof whatsoever that she was able to smell him in the first place.
Despite nothing thinking it an awful film by any stretch, I actually can’t think of a single positive to say about the film, it’s just kind of there. It’s 85 minutes of your life that you’re not going to get back if you watch it, and you won’t feel any overwhelming emotions either way. It’s as bland as bland can be.
“Treading Water” is one of the most bang average films that I’ve ever seen. It’s 85 minutes of sitting there trying to figure out if there is actually anything worthwhile in the movie and ultimately you’re left with a film that you will struggle to remember afterwards.
It took me nearly four hours to write this considerably-shorter-than-normal review because I simply couldn’t think of anything to say, it’s that forgettable.
If you have 85 minutes spare then there are far better options to fill that time with.