• Nicole Sherwin

Film Review: My Octopus Teacher

The greatest love story on Netflix right now.

I'm already crying. Source: CNN

I like to take a nap most days, because I can, so I popped this on in the background, thinking the soothing narration might put me to sleep - only I did not sleep a wink.


Emmy-nominated documentarian Craig Foster was mentally exhausted. He never wanted to see another camera or editing room again and was no good to his family in that state. To reclaim his health, he decides to move back to his childhood hometown - Cape Town, South Africa, where his fondest childhood memories were spent swimming in the rock pools.


He makes a pact with himself to swim in the kelp forest every day. Craig comes across as a gentle, soothing, calm man, but he is really a boss. Those waters are some of the roughest in the world. It makes Bondi look like a kiddy pool. Not to mention what lies beneath. There’s more sharks than Shark Week. But he is so chill. Oh, and he swims every day without a wetsuit in temperatures of eight degrees.


It’s under the water that he develops a life-changing relationship with a common octopus. Yes, I did say that.

He first sees her, covered in shells, in what he will learn months later is camouflage from predators. Day by day, they build trust, forming a bond that you haven’t even seen in a David Attenborough documentary. The octopus, who is a female, but has no name, begins by letting him touch one arm, while her body is safely tucked away in her den. Slowly, she comes out further and further and eventually she's following him around and lets Craig touch her. She eventually will give up what she’s doing to go and cuddle Craig when she sees him.

Cuddles. Source: IMDB


In an interview with CNN, Craig said, “When she chooses to let you into her world…it’s a very, very special moment of not just being accepted, but that your presence to her also feels natural, like you belong in that space with her.”


I’m not going to give away the story, but I was on the edge of my seat. Well I wasn’t, I was lying on my couch underneath my Kmart blanket, but it is a wild ride. It’s a weird feeling because the story that is such an emotional rollercoaster is in such juxtaposition of the calming nature of Craig’s voice and the beautiful visuals of nature that dominate the film.

We STAN you no name lady octopus! Source: IMDB


The very fact that I’m raving about a story about an octopus is such a testament to the storytelling and film making skills of the crew. It's written and directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, and colouring by Kyle Stroebel, which is an unusual thing to mention, but when you watch, you’ll definitely see that it deserves a shout out. The film was a labour of love for eight years, but the relationship with the octopus takes place over the space of a year.

Overall, I’m not a crier, unless someone is being mean to me or giving me negative feedback, but by the end of this film about one man’s relationship with a common octopus, I was sobbing.


One of the best documentaries I’ve seen.

9.5/10 I suggest you watch it immediately. Now, go.


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