Dark Water

Dark Water


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Remakes are lazy cinema.

Hollywood executives must assume that no one in that great country of theirs can read subtitles, so there's nothing wrong with purloining the imagination of others to present North American versions of Japanese ghost stories.

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First there was The Ring, then The Grudge and now Dark Water. For those who have seen the originals, stay away. The repros are nothing but fakes.

This freshly fouled Dark Water has an advantage and a disadvantage. Actually, it has two advantages, Walter Salles and Jennifer Connelly. The disadvantage is that screenwriter Rafael Yglesias has messed up the plot enough to leave out the best of the first version and utterly botch the ending.

Let's be positive. Salles is from Brazil and he's a wonderful director (Central Station, Behind The Sun, The Motorcycle Diaries). Connelly is the most untouched star in the galaxy because she acts from the heart and not from the ego.

Dahlia (Connelly) and hubby (can this really be Dougray Scott, sinking into the mire of blink'n'go roles?) have split acrimoniously and she's taken their daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade) to live in the most depressing high rise on an island next to New Jersey, where bad architects have been experimenting with the concept of despair.

The only living human beings she encounters are the seedy, smarmy real estate agent (John C Reilly), the Eastern European janitor (Pete Postlethwaite) who hates people, especially those who ask for his help, a couple of menacing skateboarders and a sad, sympathetic lawyer (Tim Roth) who works from his car.

The story is centred on Dahlia's ability to cope as a single mom, having no self-esteem, thanks to a hateful alcoholic mother (see flashbacks) and no self-confidence, thanks to an opinionated, overbearing, almost-ex husband (see Dougray), as well as the mystery of Ceci's imaginary friend, who turns out to be less than imaginary. And whatever happened to the girl who used to live in the apartment above?

There's also the water, of course, which for reasons never explained is as black as oil and keeps dripping through the ceiling onto Dahlia's duvet. Supernaturally, the film fails to raise the hairs on the backs of your hands, which is surprising from a South American director, and appears more interested in the social deprivation of low-rent accommodation and the ability of a single individual - a woman on her own - to fight the system and find a plumber.

It would be easy to mock this remake for missing the point, but it does have Connelly and she makes you care. For a while, at least.

Reviewed on: 20 Jul 2005
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So-so adaptation of Hideo Nakata's Japanese horror movie.
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Read more Dark Water reviews:

The Exile ***
The Remote Viewer **
Kotleta **

Director: Walter Salles

Writer: Rafael Yglesias, based on a screenplay by Hideo Nakata and Taka Ichise, based on the novel by Koji Suzuki

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite, Ariel Gade, Camryn Manheim, Perla Haney-Jardine, Elina Lowensohn

Year: 2005

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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