Many indie movies that come into town courtesy of Sundance and Cannes are often the same safe, predictable product, only with a quirkier label. So when I see locally grown, passion projects, I'm inclined to be a little less harsh. Even if they might not be up to the standards of Hollywood fare, it's forgivable due to the fact that they lack access to their resources, which is an excuse the studio products don't have.
This partially explains my fondness for “Waterwalk,” a movie that was partially shot around Milwaukee, with actors that many local film and theater fans will recognize. Based on a memoir, it's the story of a father and son who decide to paddle down the Mississippi in a canoe, retracing the same 1,000-mile route that explorers Marquette and Joliet took in 1673.
The trip happens after Steven Faulkner realizes that he and his teenage son Justin have become estranged, not because of any dramatic event, but rather through the obligations of everyday life; he had other children with special needs, and was constantly working in order to provide for his family. But after he loses his job around the time his son Justin is about to head off to college, Steven sees one last opportunity to get to know Justin again before he leaves home.
What follows is an interesting journey complete with mostly friendly locals who assist and chat with them along the way. (Steven Faulkner has a cameo as a fisherman who points them in the right direction.) The father and son clearly love each other, and they grow closer again very naturally through realistic, occasionally humorous dialogue without the usual dramatic pandering.
Of course, said realism means that this movie definitely isn't for everyone. This is a movie with very naturalistic dialogue and a focus on a normal father and son, and the people they interact with on their journey. Admittedly, some might call this boring, but others will enjoy an uncondescending look at family bonds. And it's always nice to see a local project that isn't hard to like.
“Waterwalk” will be showing June 26 at 7 p.m. at the Oriental Theatre. Some of the cast and crew will be attending. More information can be found at waterwalkthemovie.com.