After a hurricane hits the west coast of Florida, two young teen girls, Claire (Emma Roberts, Julia’s niece) and Hailey (JoJo Levesque) discover a mermaid in the swimming pool of Claire’s grandparents’ motel. Her name is Aquamarine (Sara Paxton).
It’s the last week of summer; Hailey’s mom got a job in Australia and the two best friends are about to be separated. They pray for a miracle, and Aquamarine seems to be it.
Claire and Hailey are sweet on the local lifeguard, and since Aquamarine got permission for her mer-dad to go beyond the sea to see if real love between males and females really exists, she grows legs during the day and then falls for the same lifeguard.
Based on a novel by Alice Hoffman, and poorly compared to other mermaid movies by film critics and reviewers, Aquamarine actually has a lot going for it.
I was in the middle of reading Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, God is Love – Deus Caritas Est (I bet you didn’t expect to find a reference to this here!) when I went to see Aquamarine. The Pope frames his essay by defining the three kinds of love that exist in the world: Eros the love between a man and a woman (“…a love which is neither planned or willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings”), Philia (“the love of friendship”), Agape (“… the new vision of love” that points “to something new and distinct about the Christian understanding of love” – “the biblical notion of love… that becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.”)
I was delighted to see that all of these kinds of love are found to some degree or another in Aquamarine. The thoughtful catechist, religious educator, and parent will find these themes to be rich fonts from which to draw when talking or teaching about the ways faith and life come together.
True, this is a film for young teens and pre-teens, and I dare say, the target audience is mostly girls (there should have been more cultural diversity in the film, however) and it is very tastefully produced. Aquamarine is still playing in theaters in the L.A. area, but if you can’t get to the cineplex, be sure to watch for the DVD. There’s more here than meets the eye.
(You can order God Is Love/Deus Caritas Est by Pope Benedict XVI from www.pauline.org, $6.95)