Flow: For Love of Water (review)

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Like much of what we see in the documentary genre these days, Irena Salina’s messily impassioned exposé of the world water crisis — the film debuted at the 2008 Sundance and won an International Jury Prize at Mumbai this year — will, by dint of its arthouse release trajectory, bypass those not already in the know (that is, those who really need to see it) and end up preaching mostly to a choir that’s already on its side. Salina traveled the world to gather the anecdotes and scary stories collected here: yes, there is indeed a global water crisis playing out beyond the view of most Westerners, and it goes way beyond the absurdity we’ve been trained to get used to, of paying for water in a bottle when we used to get the same thing out of a tap for free. But even as multinational corporations attempt to privatize and monetize water — believing there’s some sort of economic right in squeezing nonexistent pennies out of the poorest of the poor in the most destitute places on Earth, or leaving them to thirst when they can’t pay — independent scientists are developing dirt cheap ways to bring clean water to everyone. Can creativity win out over greed? That’s the cliffhanger it’s up to, Salina hopes, a newly motivated audience to decide, even if her approach plays more like a TV newsmagazine story than a feature doc. Still: You may never buy bottled water again after this.

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