“A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world.” – IMDB
Sometimes a movie comes along that I only hear good things about. From critics to friends, they all rave, so I prepare my bowl of popcorn and settle in for what I’m sure will be a good night. I start the film and I wait. And I wait. And I wait. Isn’t this supposed to get good at some point? Well, that was my experience with My Octopus Teacher.
This film follows Craig Foster, a filmmaker and free diver from South Africa who begins filming a female octopus in the waters near Cape Town. Over the course of a year, and throughout most of the octopus’s entire life span, Foster follows her journey. And her journey is objectively amazing. She loses an arm and regrows it, survives a shark attack by literally riding on the shark’s back, and displays incredible intelligence that will shock any viewer. In terms of the films science and footage, it is captivating.
My issue with the movie was in how hard the filmmakers seemed to want to make this about Foster’s journey. Foster begins following this octopus when he is at a low moment, struggling with both his professional and family life. Through following the octopus’s journey, he begins to feel a sense of purpose and develops a greater understanding of the fragility of life. I respect and admire the attachment Foster felt with this creature and the lessons that he learned from her, including feeling like a part of the world instead of just a visitor to it. However, focusing so heavily on Foster felt like an unnecessary and overly-dramatic piece of a film that would have been more fulfilling if focused solely on it’s multi-armed protagonist.
So while I enjoyed the visuals, the animal’s journey, and the film’s beautiful score, it ultimately felt a bit heavier than necessary and, with that heaviness came a bit of boredom. Ultimately, I guess I’m just going to choose a little David Attenborough any day of the week.
Rating: 5 out of 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also watch: Night on Earth, Life Story, anything by our boy David Attenborough
Directed By: Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed