Linda Cook review: Immerse yourself in ‘My Octopus Teacher’

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For those of us who cherish our animal friends, cute ‘n’ cuddly isn’t a requirement for affection.

The lovely, incredible “My Octopus Teacher” will have you tearing up while you learn about the creature that forms an unusual friendship with a human.  

The human is Craig Foster, and the movie is a cinematic year-long journal about his pal, an octopus.

The year was 2010 when Foster, who needs a break from the rest of the world, begins to free-dive in a wetsuit in South African waters, where he discovers a female octopus.

As a longtime observer of nature, he is fascinated with her. But gradually she becomes fascinated with him, too, and greets him when he visits her every day. With remote cameras, he lets us observe her environment  – which, and I mean this as a warning to sensitive viewers – can be distressingly harsh.

Right along with Foster, we watch while the octopus looks for food and while she in turn becomes potential food for predators.

Directors Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed show us astonishing environments and closeups of the octopus, which is much smaller than I imagined she would be. They depict the octopus as a creature with feelings, with intelligence and strength while she confronts a shark.

Foster is shown on camera in interviews set in his home.

The most fascinating sequences, of course, are those in which Foster and the octopus truly bond: She more or less snuggles him, and seems to be as curious about him as he is about her.

Foster learns about himself in relationship to his own family and the natural world while he watches the octopus.

This movie earned Best Science/Nature Documentary and Best Cinematography in the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards (I’m a member of the group, and yes, I voted for it.)

If you need a break, too, now is the time for you to immerse yourself in this wondrous friendship.

4 out of 4 stars

Streaming on Netflix.

Running time: One hour and 25 minutes.

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