A good cast and an intriguing storyline make up the pieces of The Weight of Water, a little known film about four people investigating the murders of two Scandinavian women a hundred years earlier. Much like the movie poster, the pieces don't completely fit, but what results is still a semi-rewarding drama that has its moments.
Catherine McCormack, Sean Penn, Elizabeth Hurley, Josh Lucas and Sarah Polley star as people in two different time periods. McCormack and Polley are two different women in two drastically different time periods that are both trying to figure out what love really is. McCormack is a photojournalist doing a report on the murders that took place so long ago, and Polley is an immigrant wife that was the only survivor of the bloodshed. She told the jury that a man staying at her house was the culprit, but McCormack, over a century later, isn't so sure that she was telling the truth.
Director Kathryn Bigelow took it upon herself to adapt the challenging book into a movie, and I have mixed reactions. On the one hand, considering the fact that the story takes place in two different time periods, Bigelow did a decent job of mixing up the scenes. On the other hand, though, The Weight of Water almost seems like a rough draft, for there are so many rough edges that it is distracting.
Though it is unfair to compare this movie to The Hours, I will anyway. The Hours takes place in three different time periods and interlaces them perfectly. The Weight of Water only has two storylines to deal with but the transitions seem hasty and unfinished. Granted, The Weight of Water's stories are not as easy to intermix as The Hours was, but regardless, the edges needed to be worked out. The film is rather confusing, and it is mostly due in part to the fact that the editing is just so lousy.
Furthermore, a lot of things seem left unfinished in the plot as well. The sexual tension between Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurley (who, thankfully, gets quite naked and spends the rest of the time parading around in a white bikini) seems to be a prominent theme of the movie, but aside from McCormack's hidden jealousy, the subplot is never fully addressed. There were other innuendos and questions raised that are never given a proper finish.
The negatives aside, The Weight of Water does have a lot of good things going for it as well. The entire storyline set in the 1800's (leading up to the murder) is pretty interesting, and parts of the modern day story (especially the scenes with Elizabeth Hurly) are good. I don't completely understand why the author decided to parallel the past story with the present one, as it seems to just cut up the pace of the film. Nevertheless, that's what we have to go on...
The Weight of Water is a decent movie that works moderately well as a drama, but it has a lot of obvious flaws that could have been worked out under better circumstances.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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