Beside Still Waters begins by introducing us to Daniel, a thirty-something year old man whose parents have just died. Seeking closure of some kind before selling the lake house he grew up in with his parents, he invites his six best friends from High School to spend a weekend with him in said lake house getting wasted and having fun like the old times. Only you can’t really go back to the way things were, and this is obvious from the very beginning.
The motif of ‘The Lost Generation’–the group of artists from the 1920’s who lived bohemian lives and partied up whenever they could–is weaved throughout the film because of the similarities it has with Daniel and his group of friends. They live in the moment, are open-minded, and don’t restrict themselves to anything they want. This all sounds like a-lot of fun, but it also has its downside, which we can see during the climax of the film, when *SPOILER* Daniel asks his friends why none of them came to his parent’s funeral.
The downside of doing anything you want and living the way you want is selfishness. You’re so concentrated thinking about yourself and your life that you forget about the people that are supposed to matter to you. This is evidenced in the way various characters act in the movie…namely, they give in to their impulses, no matter whom they may hurt with the consequences of their actions. It is this evident selfishness that stopped me from really liking this movie the way I could have.
Another theme that really stood out for me, especially because I live in a latin-american country, is the way Daniel’s group of friends separated throughout the years. I understand that in the United States, people spread out once they grow up and they rarely get to see their family and friends, maybe in Thanksgiving and Christmas. This sounds inconceivable to me, because in Panama (where I live) and in Latin America in general, we tend to stick together.
For example, even though I’m married and living my own life, I still see my parents at least once a week if not more. I also frequently have dinners with my in-laws, my brothers-in-law and his wife. Not only that, but I see my cousins and aunts and uncles, and my husband’s cousins and aunts and uncles, at least once every month. The Christmas and New Year’s parties are humongous, everybody gets together. I see my friends, several of whom I grew up with, a couple times a month too, if not more. Some of them I see several times a week.
This is the way we are raised, and it may sound overwhelming to someone who wasn’t raised this way, but the good thing about it is that I never feel alone. I know that if something happens to me, or I run into some type of trouble, I have a large network of people I can turn to for help, like I have done in the past. It’s comforting, and I look forward to raising my own children the same way, surrounded by their grandparents and cousins and everyone else.
That’s why it’s so sad for me to watch a movie like this where one of the themes is the distance that is naturally created between friends as they all move on with their lives. It’s sad because I think it doesn’t have to be that way. So even though I liked the movie and I’m okay with its overall melancholic vibe, I didn’t really relate to the characters or felt fulfilled by its message. The characters are all well-developed, the pacing is fast, there are some humorous moments, and the tension is also very well-regulated, but even though the film is technically proficient, it didn’t do it for me.