On the surface, Float may seem like your average small-town summer romance, but this refreshingly heartfelt film has so much more simmering beneath the surface. Directed by Sherren Lee and adapted from a YA novel, the movie follows Waverly, a young woman at a crossroads in life who seeks solace in the charming rural community where her aunt lives. What she finds there is a journey of self-discovery filled with thoughtful introspection, poignant struggles, and a dash of sweet romance.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a feel-good coming-of-age story that tugs at the heartstrings. And let me tell ya, Float had me hooked from the opening scenes. The tale captures that pivotal moment when we question expectations placed on us and have the courage to forge our own path. You can’t help but connect with the characters and themes on a deeper level.
While it hits many of the same narrative beats you’d expect, the emotionally resonant performance from lead actress Andrea Bang gives this film a certain lyrical quality I found deeply affecting. Float certainly delivered the feels I crave while bringing a fresh sensibility to the genre. If you too enjoy introspective, character-driven journeys about finding oneself, buckle up because you’re in for an absolute treat.
Finding Herself in a Seaside Town
When plans to visit her parents in Taiwan fall through, Waverly spontaneously travels to the idyllic seaside town where her Aunt Rachel lives to recalibrate. The high-achieving medical student has spent her whole life trying to meet the high expectations of her emotionally distant mom and dad, so this little detour is her first act of rebellion.
In the quirky community, Waverly crosses paths with Blake, Aunt Rachel’s hunky neighbor who works as a lifeguard. After Blake rescues Waverly from an accidental fall into the water, he offers to teach her how to swim during her stay.
As the lessons progress, the two start bonding over feeling constrained by responsibilities – Waverly by her parents’ vision for her future, and Blake for having to raise his younger sister. An attraction grows, but both struggle to admit deeper feelings due to their complex lives.
When her parents finally reach out, demanding she join a residency program in Toronto, Waverly recognizes she must take control of her own destiny. Her act of defiance gives Waverly the courage to open up to Blake as well as confront her mom and dad once and for all regarding their emotional distance. By claiming her power, she finds an empowering new direction.
Captivating Characters and Themes Give This Romance Wings
One of Float’s biggest assets lies in its endearing characters and resounding themes that left my heart so full. Set against a postcard-worthy small town, the story gives its central figures room to breathe and evolve. While on the surface it may follow a familiar girl-meets-boy script, the poignant writing and performances give the narrative extra dimension.
In the lead role, Andrea Bang brings captivating emotional depth to Waverly’s journey of gaining autonomy in life and love. We experience her tangibly earnest self-reckoning, as she navigates asserting herself while dealing with the guilt of bucking expectations. Bang’s captivating range truly resonates.
Waverly’s aunt Rachel also shines as a vibrant supporting character, representing an alternate vision of life’s possibilities. And Blake makes the most of his scenes, as we witness his struggle to balance responsibility, dreams and romance entwine.
These richly-drawn personalities find powerful reflections in the story’s themes of breaking from prescribed paths to shape one’s own. The courage required feels palpable, cutting close-to-home for anyone who’s stretched their wings or had them clipped against their will.
While covering familiar ground, the writing insightfully explores independence and societal pressures with refreshing nuance. Moments of breezy humor help round out the poignancy. The film sings by getting to the emotional truth of self-actualization and relationships with authenticity and heart.
Sticking Too Close to the Romance Script
While Float succeeds on many character fronts, a few weaknesses surface in towing the line of formulaic romance tropes. The central relationship would have benefited from more time to nurture organic chemistry between Waverly and Blake. As is, the pair’s dynamic unfolds through convenient plot devices like swim lessons versus authentic interpersonal sparks. We get told they make sense together more than shown.
Blake’s character also never moves beyond the stock dreamboat archetype in order to craft a fully dimensional person. Details about his interior world and backstory remain in shallow waters.
Additionally, Float touches on Waverly’s parents’ emotional limitations and expectations of her but doesn’t wade deeper into this rich source of conflict. Doing so could have injected the story with more tense, cathartic moments when she confronts them later on.
The customary rhythms of a screen romance end up overriding chances for these relationships’ untreated layers to be peeled back. In conforming to genre conventions, the bonds between certain characters float along the clichéd surface rather diving below for treasures of nuance and insight. Audiences wanting an escapist fairy tale may not mind, but those seeking depth get left treading water.
Picturesque Visuals and Melodies in Harmony
Float’s cinematography aptly complements the coming-of-age story by emphasizing the idyllic seaside locale and emotional arcs through effective filmmaking choices. Warm lighting and faded color palettes capture the sun-kissed, nostalgic essence of the quaint setting.
The camera often follows Waverly on introspective walks along the beach and through verdant gardens, mirroring her contemplative headspace. Visual motifs like ripples on water tie back to central themes of disruption and going with the flow.
The dreamy, folksy soundtrack also echoes the characters’ mindsets through acoustic ballads and wistful piano melodies. The music swells during romantic and dramatic moments but largely remains an understated presence – a light touch that lets poignant scenes breathe. An elegant composition plays as Waverly assertively makes decisions, punctuating her growth.
These aesthetic and audio elements meld together to provide a lush atmosphere that effectively ushers viewers into this world and its bittersweet beauty. The technical craftmanship shows a light hand that lets the writing and performances guide our journey.
A Relatable Journey of Love and Self Worth Finding
Ultimately, I found Float to be a heartening coming-of-age tale that celebrates the self-realization journey we all take in one way or another. While familiar genre trappings keep it from diving to great dramatic depths, the film distinguishes itself through genuine emotion and thoughtful themes that touched me deeply.
Central performances breathe vibrant life into the material, even where narrative dimensions feel thin. Andrea Bang in particular moved me profoundly as she gave such lyrical shape to Waverly’s yearning for purpose and agency.
Those who connect to stories about gaining courage, nurturing empowered identities, and learning what relationships require sacrifice will find pieces of themselves floating through this tale. The themes echo universally in crisp dialog and artful shots.
For hopeless romantics seeking fairytale endings, this offers just enough sweetness. And cynics may roll their eyes at parts. But approach with an open heart, and you’ll likely discover worthwhile currents flowing beneath the surface. While the tide only carries it so far, I found the trip down self-discovery’s river worthwhile, wherever it may lead for others. Worth seeing where it floats you.
Float may follow a familiar coming-of-age storyline, but strong performances and resonant themes of independence and self-identity help this rom-com drama rise above solely formulaic waters. Andrea Bang delivers particularly affecting work as the lead. While the plot beats can feel predictable and some characters underdeveloped, the movie finds an emotional truth in its central journey of gaining courage and autonomy. In the end, I connected more to the personal evolution versus the romance. I'd give Float a rating of 7 out of 10. It may not fully reinvent the wheel, but thoughtful moments provide rewarding payoffs.
- Strong lead performance from Andrea Bang
- Beautiful, charming small-town setting
- Thoughtful coming-of-age themes of self-discovery
- Resonant storyline and relationships
- Lovely soundtrack complements the tones
- Formulaic romantic storyline
- Lacks chemistry between the two leads
- Some underdeveloped supporting characters
- Could have further explored family conflict
- Conforms a bit too much to genre tropes