Dark Water
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Walter Salles
scr Rafael Yglesias
with Jennifer Connelly, Ariel Gade, Dougray Scott, Tim Roth, John C Reilly, Pete Postlethwaite, Camryn Manheim, Perla Haney-Jardine, Jennifer Baxter, Linda Emond, Simon Reynolds, JR Horne
release US 8.Jul.05, UK 22.Jul.05
05/US Touchstone 1h47

Drip, drip, drip: Connelly

scott roth reilly

See also: DARK WATER (2002)

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Dark Water Salles and Yglesias faithfully relocate Hideo Nakata's moody 2002 Japanese fright-flick to a rain-soaked New York City. The strong cast, intriguing visuals and subtle scripting keep things introspective and unsettling, until Hollywood takes over with an unnecessarily big climax that feels awkwardly tacked-on.

Dahlia (Connelly) is trying to start her life over with young daughter Ceci (Gade). In the midst of a custody battle with her unfaithful ex-husband (Scott), she rents a rather run-down flat on New York's Roosevelt Island, then has to badger the agent (Reilly) and super (Postlethwaite) to fix a leaky pipe in the ceiling. But the water that drips through isn't clear, and the ghost of a missing little girl (Haney-Jardine) seems to have something to do with it.

The film is at its best when focusing on Dahlia's internal struggles, and Connelly is, of course, superb as a woman second-guessing herself on every level. As her circumstances slowly shift from mildly annoying to increasingly sinister to downright outrageous, Connelly effectively portrays a woman tenaciously holding onto her sanity while reality begins to disappear. The surrounding cast don't have nearly as much to do--they're one-note characters who exist mainly to torment her! So it's good news that they're all solid actors who add edges of subtext.

Alas, Salles' directorial artistry drowns in the standard Hollywood movie machine. Besides the strikingly bleached cinematography and a sense of continual dampness, the direction is efficient but anonymous. You can see him going for a more interesting examination of a woman trying desperately to succeed on her own, against mind-boggling odds. But by the end, the requirements of the genre beat him into submission. This is a pity, because he builds such a chilling tone, full of red herrings and hints of serious threats that are real, imagined and supernatural. So when it all boils over into a flood of horror, it feels completely overwrought, and the much more subtle drama is submerged in the commotion. Sure, this will give horror fans a bit more satisfaction. But is it too much to ask for an intelligent creep-out?

cert 15 themes, language, suspense 12.Jun.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Dark Water Luke, Maryland: 4.5/5 "I agree that this a very intelligent film that far exceeds the original and most other PG-13 horror movies these days. The ending was slightly dissapointing. I was much more into the mental deterioration of Dhalia than the ghost that was lurking about. I would rather the entire thing was left open to interpretation as to whether it was all in her head or not. But regardless, it was great job by the director and cinematographer and screenwriter. And all the acting is superb. It reminded me of Roman Polanski or Hitchcock. I thought this film was miles above The Grudge and the pitful Ring 2 as far as these Japanese remakes go. If you like movies that make you think a little instead of just being pure entertainment, then I highly recommend this movie." (30.Dec.05)
2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall