Licensed To Ill introduced Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA, as a man singularly devoted to brews, broads, and partying down. But the rapper has subsequently proven to be a serious, socially conscious soul and an international renaissance man. In spite of its name, Flow, a new release from Yauch's Oscilloscope Pictures, has nothing to do with busting dope rhymes, and everything to do with two of Yauch's drearier preoccupations: independent film and saving the world. Like Patrick Creadon's recent national-deficit downer, I.O.U.S.A., Flow: For The Love Of Water skips right past depressing on its way to apocalyptic.
Irena Salina's muckraking expose of the international water crisis explores the way greedy multinational corporations, many run by snooty Frenchmen in expensive suits (boo! hiss!), callously exploit the poverty and desperation of Third World peasants by privatizing water distribution, stealing and bottling water without offering anything in return, and generally giving capitalism a bad name. Some of the film's more alarming revelations veer close to science fiction, like the news that polluted water has transformed male fish and frogs into females and may be lowering human sperm counts throughout the world. Flow sends out a despairing warning that the dystopian worlds of Children Of Men and Waterworld may soon be upon us.
In a depressing but all too predictable bit of tragic irony, the people who can least afford to pay for clean, non-polluted water are the ones most often asked to do so. In Flow, the profits that global monoliths like Vivendi derive from their water companies are nothing less than blood money. The film flaunts its people-vs.-the-powerful populism, offering a blatant attack on big business and its money-pimping ways. It ends with a call to make access to clean water a universal human right, not a luxury to be doled out at a high premium by the Nestles and Vivendis of the world. Grim but ultimately hopeful, Flow makes a convincing, impassioned case that concerned citizens need to fight for the right to clean water just as assiduously as Yauch and his Beastie compatriots once demanded the right to party.