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Drinkwater – Movie Review
February 17, 2023

Synopsis: A coming-of-age story in the John Hughes tradition. Mike Drinkwater is lost. His father, Hank, is hardly the role model Mike deserves. A young woman moves to town, and their friendship gives them the courage to overcome challenges.
Director: Stephen S. Campanelli
Stars: Eric McCormack, Louriza Tronco, Daniel Doheny

If you are a director and make a good film, hats off to you, but can you do it again? Stephen Campanelli is no stranger to filmmaking. He has been a long-time member of Clint Eastwood’s film production crew and has worked on over 100 projects.

Several years ago, Campanelli directed the acclaimed film Indian Horse, which brought to light Canada’s residential school system. It is an incredibly impactful film.  

Campanelli returned to working on projects with Clint Eastwood but is back with his newest film, Drinkwater, which is unapologetically Canadian. Set and shot in Penticton, British Columbia, we meet Mike Drinkwater (Daniel Doheny), a high schooler trying to fit in. He lives with his father, Hank (Eric McCormack). Hank spends most of his time devising get-rich-quick schemes, like insurance scams, and isn’t exactly in line for any ‘father of the year prizes.’ Hank means well but is not there for his son, who calls him ‘Hank,’ not ‘Dad.’ The awkward Mike struggles to fit in at school and avoid being bullied.

Campanelli does a great job of laying the framework for this story by taking the time to establish a strong foundation. The script, written by Luke Fraser and Edward McDonald, captures the essence of adolescence and its hurdles. We don’t often see these stories through a Canadian lens; this film is a breath of fresh air.

Mike meets Wallace (Louriza Tronco), the girl next door…literally. She moves in with her grandparents, and they start spending time together. They drive to school together, and Mike introduces her to a new world of exciting things, like Tim Hortons.

We have a little love triangle brewing as Mike is somewhat smitten with Danny, a girl at school, and Wallace becomes interested in Mike, but he’s utterly oblivious to it. Boys!

The performances in this film are very good. Doheny and Tronco deliver as our leads. They navigate the waters of teen-angst extremely well.

McCormack, many will know from the sitcom Will & Grace, does a great job in this role. He blends from comedy to drama so seamlessly, and his character has some funny and touching moments in the film.

The insecurities, second-guessing, and overall growth during the teen years are captured very well in this film.

Drinkwater is a very enjoyable watch. While it is set in current times, it has a strong 80s feel. The soundtrack is nothing short of outstanding and a wonderful love letter to Canadian music.

The characters are relatable, and the story is sweet. While Drinkwater has familiar themes, it proves that Campanelli’s outstanding work with Indian Horse wasn’t a fluke. He has again created a very strong film that just happens to be Canadian, and shouldn’t be missed.

 Grade: B+

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