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Film / Water Lilies

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Water Lilies (French: Naissance des pieuvres, meaning "Birth of the Octopuses") is a 2007 French coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Céline Sciamma in her feature debut.

The film follows the sexual awakenings of three 15-year-old girls — Floriane, Marie and Anne — in a middle-class suburb of Paris over the course of a single summer, brought together by the sport of synchronized swimming.

Marie grows fixated on Floriane after she sees the team she captains perform at a competition, and begins to hang around her. Marie's best friend Anne is also part of a separate team, and grows attracted to a boy named François, himself romantically involved with Floriane.

Finding privacy in the solitude of the locker room, the blossoming teens come to learn the true meaning of arousal and the power of sexual attraction amid their struggles with puberty-onset issues, such as the pressures of virginity.


Water Lilies was selected for screening in the section Un certain regard at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Its soundtrack was composed by music producer Para One, a friend of Sciamma's who went on to do the music for all of her films.

Water Lilies contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Age-Gap Romance: Although Floriane is interested in teenagers her own age, she regularly goes out with adult men she meets at parties.
  • Almost Kiss: At a party, Floriane comes close to kiss Marie, which Marie waits for before she realizes that Floriane prefers to dance with a man.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Floriane. She goes out and kisses many men, to the great chagrin of Marie who loves her before kissing her and letting her finger her to finally apparently retract and start again with men.
  • Am I Just a Toy to You?: Marie to Floriane.
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  • Covered in Kisses: Marie's mouth is covered with lipstick after Floriane kissed her and left her alone to face her confused emotions
  • Creator Cameo: Céline Sciamma makes an appearance as a McDonald's restaurant cashier.
  • Fan Disservice: The sex scene between Marie and Floriane is purposely not made to be arousing. It consists of Marie fingering Floriane in the coldest manner possible, with neither taking their clothes off.
  • First Kiss: Between Floriane and Marie, who takes it much more to heart than the former seems to do.
  • Gay Best Friend: Inverted. The main protagonist Marie is lesbian and her best friend Anne is straight.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Anne and Marie, though the latter is a lesbian, they remain great friends.
  • Holding Hands: Floriane with Marie which gives her a lot of hope for a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Invisible Parents: No parent is ever shown.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Floriane is very feminine.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Downplayed. Marie is in love with Floriane, who is in a relationship with François but is becoming more and more interested in Marie, even though Floriane continues to seduce many men. Anne and Marie have strong feelings of friendship for each other but Marie's interest in Floriane keeps her away from Anne who has a crush on François. The latter, seeing that Floriane does not want to sleep with him, falls back on Anne, who will eventually let him down. Marie and Anne end up being the only ones with a close relationship. ¨
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: Marie's state after Floriane let her kiss her and then went back to seduce a boy.
  • Practice Kiss: Marie's Platonic Kissing on her friend Anne after the latter admits she has never kissed anyone.
  • Really 17 Years Old: Floriane, who is 15 years old, regularly lies to the men she meets, making them believe that she is of age.
  • Rule of Pool: At the end, a fully clothed Marie jumps in the water after the kiss she shared with Floriane, and she is joined by a clothed Anne.
  • School Swimsuit: The synchronised swim competition team's orange and red swimsuit.
  • Secretly-Gay Activity: Marie, who is in the closet, acts like a close friend to Floriane until a certain point, when she agrees to finger her, where Floriane understands Marie's attraction to her.
  • Sex Equals Love: Subverted. While François sleeps with Anne, who loves him, only out of spite, the sexual relationship between Marie and Floriane allows the latter to implicitly comprehend the other's feelings.
  • Signature Line: "Ben tu vois, c'était pas si difficile" and "T'imagine le nombre de personnes qui ont des plafonds dans les yeux."
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: Anne with François, even though she doesn't like him for his popularity ,and besides, he turns out to be a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: Downplayed and Double Subverted. Floriane goes out and kisses many men, to the great chagrin of Marie who loves her before kissing her and letting her finger her to finally apparently retract and start again with men.
  • Slut-Shaming: The other swimmers regularly shame Floriane because she is rumored to sleep around and be sex-positive.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Floriane, who has been sexually harassed by adult men, would rather look ordinary or even be fat than be pretty and receive this inappropriate attention, as she confides to Marie.
  • Their First Time: Anne with François and Floriane with Marie.
  • Transparent Closet: It is clear that Floriane is not straight and that Marie has the Closet Key but she never admits it and probably suffers from it while hurting Marie.
  • Unexpected Virgin: Floriane, despite the rumors, is still a virgin, even wishing that her first time would be with Marie. It will be the case and it is rather reassuring that she did not have it with adult men.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Marie with Floriane and to a lesser extent Anne with François
  • You Are Fat: Played for Drama. Marie to Anne who's extremely insecure about her weight which she feels prevents her from being attractive to François. Although extremely hurt after this remark, Anne and Marie reconcile.