It’s difficult to know what to say about this. I even have a problem simply saying what form of film or video this is. It’s certainly not a conventional documentary or a conventional biography. I challenge anyone to say they know more about or appreciate Megan Boyd better after watching this.
I was told I would be watching a film about Megan Boyd. I expected a film about her life and fly tying, maybe something about how she worked, how she taught younger tyers and her legacy ... nah!
An American narrator (the director?) mangling Scottish place names had me wincing from the start. Thankfully, he was only there for the first few minutes. I found this film long and drawn out, punctuated by interviews which often seemed interesting, but were frequently handled in an oddly bloodless way. Dissolve into animations of oil paintings loosely and slightly too obviously linked to metaphors about life, rivers, fish, water … the usual cliches! Cut to scenes filmed in northern Scotland, no doubt in and around where Megan Boyd lived, though you would be hard pressed to know. There are odd scenes with no apparent point, a static camera looking at a road, a couple of lorries pass through the frame. A lingering, i.e. far too long, scene of a hotel in Helmsdale? All accompanied by slightly depressing, modern classical music.
Details about Megan Boyd’s life are brought out through interviews with people who knew her, though we are never told who they are and only discover their connection through their stories. Then we get rather breathless and frankly silly reading of bits of fly dressings. There are only brief moments of fly tying – on hooks and using vices and tools Megan Boyd would not have used. Oh, and far too many mentions of Prince Charles (she tied flies for Royalty, and was awarded her BEM personally, by Charles, as she couldn’t make the official presentation at Buckingham Palace because she had to look after her dog).
Maybe I can be accused of having a lack of empathy or imagination, but I found this film annoying, arty and self-indulgent. The component parts don’t sit easily together, and I could find little on no structure drawing me along with the film. Colin Simpson is the main interviewee, and does his best to bring Megan Boyd to life. The director seems determined to flatten and thin any depth of detail. Part produced by the BBC, I’ll be interested to see if this cut makes it to broadcast. Now how do I get back the hours I’ve spent watching this?
Kiss the Water
Directed by Eric Steel
Screened at Tribeca Film Festival and Edinburgh Film Festival
(ON PUBLIC RELEASE IN DECEMBER 2013)