Late to the party.
I know plenty of people have seen and reviewed this film. None the less, I wanted to add my 2 cents just because I want to join the chorus of voices who insist this film is a must see.
Fly fishing is the backdrop for this film about a long distance friendship. Alex “Xenie” Hall and JT Van Zandt got to know each other when the latter worked in a Colorado fly shop. Xenie was already something of a local legend, having caught and photographed more big trout than most anglers dream of. The two unlikely friends bonded over the love of trout streams.
Their friendship is sometimes tried by their opposing fishing styles, which match their opposing lifestyles. JT ends up moving back to Texas to pursue boat building, and family life. Xenie stayed behind and continued to spend his life fishing.
The two friends drift apart as time passes, and visits become less frequent. This is where the film picks up the story – with JT, who lives life in the Texas swamps chasing redfish, traveling to steelhead water in B.C to fish with Xenie.
The film meshes stunningly beautiful photography with an engaging soundtrack (As a longtime fan of JT’s late father, Townes Van Zandt, I loved the inclusion of his music, sometimes performed by JT) and simply turns the cameras on the friends. The banter is hysterical, and sometimes touching – the two old friends seem to pick up where they left off, offering a kind word or fishing advice one second, and trading verbal jabs the next. The scenery is breathtaking, the fish are big, and the duality of the kind of day two guys can have on the same water is laid bare for all to see.
More than a fishing film, Low & Clear is a mediation on relationships – To society, to rivers, to fishing, and to friends. But don’t take that to mean it’s a serious, brooding affair. There’s plenty of action to keep the fly fisherman intrigued, but you don’t need to be a fly angler to be touched by this film. Ultimately, fly fishing is the backdrop for bigger things.