Quickfire Review: Low & Clear (2013)

Synopsis: A documentary about the divergent styles of two fly fisherman and what the act of fishing means to them

My Take


Low & Clear is a gentle and thoughtful documentary that explores issues of friendship, the disappearing wilderness, growing old and the importance of individuality through the lives of two fly fisherman; Alex “Xenie” Hall of Colorado and J.T. Van Zandt (son of legendary E-Street guitarist Steve Van Zandt) of Texas. Two very different souls with polar approaches to life and their pursuit of fish, the unlikely duo bonded over a mutual passion for the sport when the zen, even keeled Van Zandt lived in Colorado many years ago and learnt of the legend of Xenie Hall, a mountain man with a natural talent for landing fish and a short temper.

Nominated for a number of festival awards, and winning the Audience Choice Award at this years SXSW Festival, Low & Clear is a beautifully shot and meditatively paced film that allows it’s subjects Alex and J.T. to discuss their differing opinions on what the purpose of fishing is and test the limits of a friendship that grows weaker with each year they don’t see each other.

Set against the majestic wintry backdrop of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, it is a poignant experience, even for someone who knows as much about fly fishing as they do about the dietary requirements of a Sasquatch (not a lot). Because even knowing nothing about the sport, everyone at some point will experience the natural part of growing up, growing old and growing apart from some people that have had a significant impact on the person that you are. And the realisation that the bond you had is historically important. It’s continued presence driven by a nostalgic sense of comfort.

Conclusion: Beautifully shot, beautifully scored and wonderfully paced, if you see one documentary about the existential meaning of fly fishing this year then make it this one

Verdict: 7/10

Low & Clear is available on limited DVD/Blu Ray release in the US, and will be given a limited theatrical release in the UK in the

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