She is the Ocean

Surf’s up!

(2018) Documentary (Blue FoxAnna Bader, Sylvia Earle, Coco Ho, Cinta Hansel, Keala Kennelly, Andrea Moller, Bruce Hansel, Kelly Slater, Ocean Ramsey, Rose Molina, Jeanne Chesser. Directed by Inna Blokhina


The ocean has many feminine traits; as a species, we came from the ocean. It is literally, the mother of all life. The ocean is giving; many nations rely on her for food and commerce. The ocean is patient; it is eternal and while it is capable of great fury, it is generally calm and peaceful.

This documentary focuses on nine women (all right, eight women and a preteen girl) who all possess a deep and abiding love for the sea, whether as surfers, divers, scientists or conservationists. The women are all profiled individually, although one – young Cinta Hansel, a preteen who has ambitions to become a pro surfer – has her story woven throughout the film, most of their stories are told in individual chapters.

I’m not sure how the nine women were selected; there are certainly plenty of women who have contributed to both the science of oceanography and marine biology, as well as to the sports of surfing. Molina, a yoga instructor and artist, doesn’t really do anything ocean-related; she just likes to dive and uses the sea as a backdrop for some of her art.

The stories can be inspiring, although that of pro surfer Coco Ho seems a bit less compelling than the others – Ho comes off as extremely shallow compared to the others. Hansel, whose father Bruce was a pro surfer – doesn’t even say much during the film, it’s mostly her father who does the talking. In a documentary which is supposed to be celebrating strong, empowered women, that seems a bit odd. However, a lot of dads with daughters should take note of his absolute devotion to helping her achieve her dreams; some parents seem less willing to do that for their daughters as opposed to their sons.

Also, the various chapters aren’t really in any sort of cohesive order; in a lot of ways, it feels more like an anthology than a singular work. I think as well that the film would have benefitted from fewer subjects which would have allowed a little more depth to their stories.

=The cinematography is pretty much spot-on, and I do recommend this as something parents with daughters will want to show their little girls. This is essentially a primer in how to chase one’s dreams and that’s something young girls don’t get nearly enough of (compared to young boys). While the movie overall is flawed, at least its heart is in the right place.

REASONS TO SEE: Portrays passionate, strong, committed women.
REASONS TO AVOID: Organized in a very haphazard method.
FAMILY VALUES: There are some scenes of marine animals in peril that may be difficult for sensitive adults and children to handle.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Sylvia Earle was the first woman to be the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the history of the organization.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Fandango Now, Redbox, Vudu, Virtual Cinema
CRITICAL MASS: As of 11/13/20: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
Bullets of Justice