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Born of Water

average rating is 2 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Jun 14, 2023

Film Reviews
Born of Water
Directed by:
Alex Bates
Written by:
Alex Bates
Olivia Ephgrave, Dave Hyett. Andrew T Hislop, Ethan Hitchon

When a film is titled ‘Born of Water’ and opens with an excerpt from Johns 3:5, you expect it to be heavily guided by faith, perhaps offering some profound spiritual message. ‘Born of Water’, the title itself drawn from that same Bible passage, is not that film, and lacks holiness in the moving pictures that it depicts using those biblical references only as a lazy way to impose faux-spirituality to enhance a painfully mediocre film.


Though the film begins with a prayer, it quickly tires of such religious threads, maintaining them for all of one minute, as Alex Bates’ takes us on a gruelling ordeal more worthy of Chad Stahelski’s ‘John Wick’ quadrilogy or Robert Eggers’ magnificent ‘The Northman’, though those wonderful films are more fulfilling in terms of plot, action and violence, not to mention religious allegories. This is particularly disappointing, and reflective of many films in the current cinematic landscape, given that with such a story as ‘Born of Water’ it doesn’t seem much of a stretch to further embed a sense of spirituality to the story, which would make the film as a whole far more encompassing in spite of its many other flaws.


‘The Invasion of the Fairies’ is a commonly known folk tale on the island of Guernsey, yet even fewer know of the events that inspired the story, and which ‘Born of Water’, in a haphazard manner, aims to show. The island was invaded in 1572 by Owain Lawgoch, crushing the island’s hastily prepared militia, and forcing islanders to live in hiding and flee to remote areas of refuge until peace could be negotiated. ‘Born of Water’ focuses on one woman, separated from her sick baby daughter, and her attempts, in the midst of the raid, to return to her daughter’s side.


The female protagonist of the film, titled only as ‘The Mother’ is played by Olivia Ephgrave to disappointing effect, lacking both charm and believability as a woman turned from meekness and righteousness to vengeance. Ephgrave lacks chemistry with Ethan Hitchon, her on-screen husband, and when isolated fails to command the screen even when committing acts of glorified violence and undergoing immense pain in order to survive, and find her daughter. Her line delivery feels contrived and fails to convince, whilst her general lack of screen presence makes it difficult to root for the character, despite her obvious morality and motives.


As such ‘Born of Water’ lacks a heart, not helped by a screenplay which is abject at best, with too much emphasis on certain lines and movements, and a bizarre illogicality about it, with the sudden announcement of the husband’s departure to fight for the militia lacking any pretext. Bates’ directing is slightly better, improving as the film progresses from remarkably average to above competent towards the end, aided with some gorgeous cinematography by Matthew Stockreiter.


Nevertheless, ‘Born of Water’ is a disappointing film, doubly so as it is filled with promise. The core issue is that it lacks a heart, reflected in both performances and script and demonstrated by its faux-spirituality. Any passion that does exist for this story amongst the cast and crew hasn’t translated through, and it is instead a rather cold, passionless ordeal of a film.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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