Review By Keith Watson
Secret of Water is batshit crazy, and, for reasons definitely not intended by the filmmakers —unless this whole project was some kind of subversive act to make New Agers seem certifiably insane, a possibility I cannot entirely rule out—I kind of loved it. I would never encourage you, dear reader, to break law, but if you happen to live in a state like Colorado or Washington, Secret of Water could quite usefully serve as a supplement to a certain kind of recreational activity.
Secret of Water is a trip deep down the rabbit hole of mystical New Age-y pseudoscience about water composed almost entirely of stock footage, reenactments set in the uncanny valley, and CGI that looks like outtakes from The Mind’s Eye series. All the while, a bland narrator and an international troupe of talking-head scientists, many with extremely dodgy credentials, drop mind-blowing knowledge bombs like “The laws of the universe are written in water” and “Water is a universal computer,” and, more somberly, “Informational dirt is poisoning our water.”
Perhaps you were once roped into watching the hit pseudoscience doc What the Bleep Do We Know!?, in which case you have some idea of the secrets contained in Secret of Water. In particular, Secret of Water repeats Masaru Emoto’s widely discredited rice experiment, popularized by What the Bleep Do We Know!?, in which Emoto sealed three portions of rice into separate jars containing water. Everyday he told the first jar, “Thank you,” told the second jar, “You’re an idiot,” and completely ignored the third jar. After a few weeks of such treatment, the rice in the first jar became pleasantly fermented, the second jar of rice turned black, and third molded, thus proving that water has a memory and can record positive and negative energies.
As patently absurd as Emoto’s rice experiment may sound, it is actually one of the less bizarre claims in Secret of Water. Hardly a minute passes in this movie that does not expose us to a new piece of jaw-dropping counter-wisdom. We are told, at various points, that our tap water gets sad because of all the hatred and violence in our cities, that pipes are bad because they make water travel in straight lines and at right angles, and that playing Sting to your water will make it produce more beautiful ice crystals. In one scene, a group of people stand around a glass of tap water mentally sending it gratitude. In another, a man plays a digeridoo to a cup of water. I could go on…
This may sound like I am steering you away from Secret of Water. Quite the contrary! This movie is delightfully absurd. The movie’s bland exterior, looking and sounding like a corporate promotional video, belies a deep well of crazy. But, for all its loopiness, Secret of Water strikes me as pretty harmless. If someone watches this movie and takes it seriously, the worst possible consequence is that he or she might start saying nice things to their tap water. Not such a bad outcome, all things considered. For the rest of us, Secret of Water is trippy, hysterical fun, a bugged-out journey into the balmy heart of the New Age water wisdom. Adult Swim should slot this movie into their late-night lineup. I doubt anyone would spot the difference.
Opening theatrically on Friday, March 20 in NYC with a national release to follow.