AFI Fest 2021- “Simple As Water” and The Poignancy of Normalcy: Film Capsule Review

In an era of 24-hour news cycles, it’s easy to become numb to plights of those across the globe and compartmentalize these worldwide struggles into a single statistic. That’s why it is so essential for films like Simple As Water to continue to be produced.

Rather than looking at the Syrian refuge crisis as a whole, director Megan Mylan provides a micro glimpse into the everyday lives of three mothers. Their steadfast attempts to hold their families together is both inspiring and heartbreaking.

However, it’s the scenes of these mothers creating small moments of joy for their children despite their conditions that resonate the strongest. As the children play in ocean or debate over whether Messi or Ronaldo is the best football player, the audience is reminded that “the statistic” is not a number; it’s human lives that are filled with love, desires, and camaraderie. Simple As Water shows that the simple things in life are what unify us all: In the end we’re all just small parts of a much greater ocean.

The Silver Lining

The scene in which Samra discusses handing over her five children to an orphanage because she can no longer support them is one of the most devastating moments in a film this year. Mylan almost never cuts from Samra’s face during this scene, which makes the audience look into the mother’s soul and feel her misery. It’s a moment that encapsulates the entire message of Mylan’s documentary: That no human being should have to undergo conditions as calamitous as what the Syrian refugees are currently experiencing and that something needs to change immediately.

Simple As Water is a part of AFI Fest’s 2021 official selection. The documentary arrives on HBO Max on November 16th.

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