Renowned actor David Oyelowo makes his directorial debut with this adventure of a young teen looking for the secret to help his mother.

Gunner, a teen and aspiring graphic novelist, and his parents have just moved to a small town. His mother is dying of leukemia and his father works so hard that he tends to ignore Gunner due to his tiredness from work. When Gunner’s mother’s condition worsens, Gunner begins to worry. He reads of a legendary figure known as the Water Man, a mythical figure who just may be the cure to helping his mother. Meeting with an elderly eccentric, he finds a possible location of the Water Man.

The next day, Gunner meets a young girl, Jo. Jo is a rebellious teen who decides to help Gunner on his adventure to find the Water Man. As the two treks into the nearby forest, they begin on a potentially dangerous quest. When Gunner’s father can’t find him, he sets out to look for him. As his father searches for answers of his whereabouts, Gunner, alongside Jo, slowly begin to bond throughout the course of the quest. Will Gunner find the Water Man, and will his father find him before it’s too late?

Actor David Oyelowo makes his directorial debut on this dramatic adventure of a mythical figure who may be the key to helping our lead character’s mother. Emily A. Needell wrote a great screenplay that juxtaposes two searches, one a quest for the titular figure and a father looking for his son. The film brings a vibe of family adventures made in the late 80’s to early 90’s but done so well. It’s clear Oyelowo did his research in terms of the perfect angles to use with shoots and bringing the best out in the cast, notably the two lead characters.

Lonnie Chavis and Amiah Miller carry the film as Gunner and Jo, our youngsters who go on a dangerous quest through the forest to search for the Water Man. Gunner is an aspiring graphic novelist who gets in trouble for his dad, played by Oyelowo himself, for witnessing a funeral but his mother, played by Rosario Dawson, supports her son’s dreams. Oyelowo’s Amos seems to be the type who feels like Gunner should be the man of the house in his absence to where Gunner feels he needs the support of both mom and dad. It is when Gunner goes on his quest that Amos realizes his mistake and will step up to find his son.

As for Miller’s Jo, she is a very interesting character. We don’t know much about her background at first. However, as the film progresses, some may still have some reservations about the character as we see she is going through something. The audience wonders why she would join Gunner on the quest with no issues. One could guess, and it is a good guess, but still, just to get that “why” question pop up is one that brings curiosity to the character. The bond between these two is the heart of the film as they embark on a journey that would make the likes of Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner proud.

David Oyelowo makes an excellent directorial debut with The Water Man. Perhaps inspired by 80’s and 90’s family adventure films, this film brings out the best in the cast, notably leads Lonnie Chavis and Amiah Miller. A definite family film to watch this year.


RLJE Films presents a Harpo Films production in association with Yoruba Saxon Productions and ShivHans Films. Director: David Oyelowo. Producers: David Oyelowo, Carla Gardini, Shivani Rawat, and Monica Levinson. Writer: Emily A. Needell. Cinematography: Matthew J. Lloyd. Editing: Blu Murray.

Cast: Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, David Oyelowo, Rosario Dawson, Alfred Molina, Maria Bello, Ted Rooney, Holden Goyette, Ella Rose Parks, Adam Dunlap.