Water Lilies (film)

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Water Lilies
French theatrical release poster
Directed by Céline Sciamma
Produced by Bénédicte Couvreur

Jérôme Dopffer

Written by Céline Sciamma
Starring Pauline Acquart

Louise Blachère
Adèle Haenel

Music by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier (as Para One)
Cinematography Crystel Fournier
Edited by Julien Lacheray
Distributed by Haut et Court

Release dates

  • 17 May 2007(Cannes Film Festival)
  • 15 August 2007 (France)

Running time

85 minutes
Country France
Language French

Water Lilies (French: Naissance des Pieuvres meaning "birth of the octopuses") is a 2006 French drama film and the debut as a screenwriter and director of Céline Sciamma.[1][2]



  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Critical reception
  • 4 Awards and nominations
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


The film tracks the sexual awakenings of three 15-year-old female friends in a middle class suburb of Paris over the course of a single summer. Finding privacy in the solitude of the swimming pool locker room, blossoming teens Marie (Pauline Acquart), Anne (Louise Blachère) and Floriane (Adèle Haenel) come to learn the true meaning of arousal and the power of sexual attraction.

Marie seems to be physically and emotionally attracted to Floriane. Both Floriane and Anne are members of asynchronised swimming team, The Stade Franas Swimmers. Marie expresses an interest in joining the team in order to become closer to Floriane, whom the other girls regard as a 'slut.' Floriane exhibits her protectiveness for and caring attitude towards Marie when the former gives the latter a medal she was awarded.

When Marie sees Anne at a later point in time, Anne is resentful towards Marie for ignoring her. Marie tells Anne that she was just spending time at her cousin's. Anne accepts this explanation. The next day, Anne speaks to a young man upon whom she has a crush, Francois. Meanwhile, Floriane confesses to Marie that she has not yet had sex, despite what everyone else on the swim team seems to think. Floriane tells Marie that the rest of the young women on the team make up rumours because they do not like her. In fact, Floriane does not have many female friends.

Floriane tells Marie that one day, she was practicing in the water and the swimming instructor showed her his penis under the water. When Floriane asks Marie if she has any similar stories to tell, Marie is quiet and Floriane tells her that she is very lucky. When they go to Floriane's place, they spend time together lying on Floriane's bed holding hands. After a swim practice, Marie feels affronted when she sees Floriane kissing Francois. Floriane tells Marie that she is afraid of what will happen if Francois discovers that she is really not a slut and is hesitant about the prospect of having sex.

Floriane and Marie spends the night at a nightclub, where Floriane attempts to find an older man in order to lose her virginity before Francois discovers that she's a virgin. Floriane then finds a man and kisses him in his car, but is interrupted by Marie. Floriane thanks Marie for the interruption, and later tells Marie that she wants Marie to be her 'first', but Marie rejects Floriane. Later that day, Marie meets Anne at a shopping mall, where Anne shoplifts a necklace. When the two eat lunch at McDonald's, Marie tells Anne that she is immature, then leaves the eating establishment. When Anne enters the male swimming pool locker room after her confrontation with Marie, she gives Francois the necklace, which he then gives to Floriane. She confesses to Marie that Francois wants to see her tonight when her parents are not at home. Marie then states that she will do what Floriane had asked her to do earlier. In bed, it seems as if Marie accomplished the goal.

When Anne sees Marie the next day, she tells Marie that Floriane actually did not have sex with Francois. After Marie and Anne share a kiss, Marie tells Anne that she likes somebody. Anne assumes that Marie has a heterosexual crush. At the swimming party, Anne spits into Francois's mouth when he attempts to have sex with her for a second time.

In the locker room, Marie and Floriane finally share a passionate kiss. Floriane leaves Marie in tears when she indicates that she is going back to the party, telling Marie to 'save her' if the guy she talked to earlier at the party turns out to be 'an ass.' The film concludes with Marie jumping fully clothed into the pool, with Anne following Marie's actions once Marie resurfaces. The two best friends float on their backs in the pool together, while Floriane dances alone at the party, oblivious to the effect that her actions have had upon Marie and Anne.


  • Pauline Acquart as Marie
  • Louise Blachère as Anne
  • Adèle Haenel as Floriane
  • Warren Jacquin as François

Critical reception[edit]

Critics have given the film generally positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 75% based on reviews from 44 critics. The site's consensus is: "Water Lilies is a sharply-observed, provocative coming-of-age story that captures the anxieties of the early teen years."[3] Metacritic gives the film an average score of 65%, based on 12 reviews, indicating "[g]enerally favorable reviews."[4]

Tim Palmer discusses the film in the context of first-time, debutant filmmaking in France, which makes up around 40% of French cinema each year. As such, Sciamma's film is formally audacious (notably in its minimalism), self-referential (as in the directors' cameo as a McDonald's clerk), and very engaged with intimate rites-of-passage, the socialization process rendered through a feminine sensibility.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was selected for screening in the section Un certain regard at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, and won both the 2006 Prix de la jeunesse at Cabourg Film Festival and the 2006 Louis Delluc Prize for Best First Film.

The film secured three nominations for the 2008 César Awards; Céline Sciamma was nominated for the 2008 César Award for Best Debut, and actresses Adèle Haeneland Louise Blachère were both nominated for the 2008 César Award for Most Promising Actress. Eventually the Best Debut award went to Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud for Persepolis, and the Award for Most Promising Actress went to Hafsia Herzi for her performance in La Graine et le Mulet.


  1. Jump up^ «Pieuvres» par trois by Bruno Icher in Libération, August 15, 2006.
  2. Jump up^ Jeunes filles en eaux troubles in Le Journal du dimanche, August 15, 2006.
  3. Jump up^ "Water Lilies Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  4. Jump up^ "Water Lilies (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  5. Jump up^ Palmer, Tim (2011). Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema, Wesleyan University Press, Middleton CT. ISBN 0-8195-6827-9.

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Water Lilies at the Internet Movie Database
  • Water Lilies at AllMovie
  • Water Lilies at Metacritic
  • Water Lilies at Rotten Tomatoes
  • Naissance Des Pieuvres OST at Discogs