TBA / Elevation Pictures
Robbie Amell, Sarah Desjardins, Andrew Bachelor
During the summer before college, city girl Waverly (Andrea Bang) finds herself in Tofino, completely alienated by the local beach culture. Things start to look up when she meets the local lifeguard Blake (Robbie Amell), who welcomes her into his life. And when he finds out that she doesn’t know how to swim and takes it upon himself to teach her, she discovers a new world of possibilities which throws her carefully planned future into question.
Adapted from Kate Marchant’s hit novel, a smash success on the self-publishing platform Wattpad, Float is a tender romance grounded in the universal theme of becoming, but here centered on the specific experiences of a young Asian woman, allowing filmmaker Sherren Lee to bring her own background into Waverly’s story. Lee, here making her feature debut, directs with remarkable assurance, while Bang and Amell turn in luminous lead performances. Filmed right here in BC, this is a film that finds new depths in a classic story.
Written By Darren
Rating 3.5 out of 5
Float has a charming, moving and personal story about finding one’s place in life that will cast a spell over audiences, but it is the splendid performances of Andrea Bang and Robbie Amell that make this film come to life.
Part of the joy of attending film festivals is supporting locally made films and seeing your hometown in all of its glory on the big screen. Float not only fulfills that criteria for my Vancouver International Film Festival lineup, but it’s also a delightful romance which I am always a sucker for. Though it becomes clear very early on in the film that Float is much more than a romance, but a great character piece informed by insightful writing of Jesse LaVercombe and Sherren Lee. It was a wonderful surprise of the festival, creating a truly rewarding film that instantly connected with me and warmed my heart by the end.
Making a last minute decision to skip her internship in Toronto, Waverly flies to visit her aunt who lives in a small beach town in British Columbia. Instantly falling in love with the town and the people, Waverly decides to spend her summer there, and begins falling for Blake, the handsome lifeguard who lives next door who teaches her how to swim.
On the surface, Float may look like your typical romance film, but in fact it is so much more than that. While the romance between Waverly and Blake is one of the main parts of the story, it is a far more personal character piece that will connect with audiences on a deeper level. Everyone has hit that point in their life where they are questioning what they want to do, where they want to be and the people they want to share it with, and that is at the crux of the screenplay written by LaVercombe and Lee. At the same time, the film captures the challenges of communicating with loved ones whose strengths are not sharing their emotions, and the effects this has on their loved ones despite the underlying love present in the relationship. Both of these themes are present in not only the main characters of Waverly and Blake, but also in all the supporting characters ensuring that there is at least one character you will relate to. It is honest and heartfelt writing due to the writers drawing on their personal experiences to shape the interactions between characters, as well as changing Waverly to a character of Asian descent to allow Lee to draw from her own cultural background to inform the character, and this makes the film truly connect with audiences. The romance is still central to the story and watching Waverly and Blake develop and acknowledge their feelings for each other is touching, acting as a cherry on top of the character arcs at play.
Being a romance, the film’s success relies on the chemistry of its two leads, and Andrea Bang and Robbie Amell deliver that in spades. The second their characters meet, you can feel a spark between the two actors on screen. It’s a slow build as Blake teaches Waverly to swim at the local film, with the characters dishing out a playful will they, won’t they romance. This allows Bang and Amell to create a deeper connection between their characters, allowing the romance between them to be passionate and meaningful in the film’s second half, while also playing a crucial part in each of their character’s story arcs. Bang and Amell light up the screen, giving audiences all the heartfelt romantic moments they want from the genre.
Individually, Bang and Amell are just as impressive. Bang shows great dramatic depth to her character as she takes the audience on Waverly’s soul searching journey to find her path in life, creating a character that every audience member can relate to. Through her performance, Bang ensures you feel Waverly’s every emotion over the course of the film, ensuring that the film is full of emotional highs and lows. Amell may appear to be the typical handsome small town guy, but he deconstructs the stereotype and explores all of Blake’s fears and insecurities, giving a truly human, male lead that is a breath of fresh air in the genre. Being a fan of Amell, it was nice to see him in a role that allowed him to give a nuanced performance, showcasing his acting capabilities. The supporting cast is all great, each helping to craft a memorable character that not only fulfills a purpose in each of Waverly and Blake’s stories, but lives as their own individual in this story.
Shot on location in British Columbia, Canada, the film is gorgeous to look at. The beaches, forests and waters of British Columbia pop on the screen, that combined with some great cinematography capturing beautiful sunsets and sunrises makes this one visually entrancing film. And it’s not CGI, it’s all real locations and natural beauty that is all across British Columbia. Adding to the beauty of the film is Dan Mangan and Jesse Zubot’s musical score, giving the film a meditative feel through its calming melodies, matching Waveryl’s internal state of mind throughout the film.
Come for the romance, stay for the relatable and inspiring character piece at the heart of Float. Only aided by the stunning locations of British Columbia, Float is a truly delightful film full of romance, relatable characters, and two wonderful performances and romantic chemistry from Andrea Bang and Robbie Amell.