Despite being completed two years earlier, this is the second film of Kathryn Bigelow’s to be released this year, coming after K-19: The Widowmaker.The Weight of Water is Anita Shreve’s novel of the same title, a two-part tale that tracks a writer’s study of a historical, unresolved murder, and the flashback to the authentic events themselves. Although I have not read the novel, it implies that the read is a very literary one. And so, it is determined by the inherited pretension of the film — “There’s a poetry to photography, don’t you think? Putting a frame around the world.” More or less, the fascination with writing, shared by the investigating writer (Catherine McCormack) and her poetry-writing husband (Sean Penn) remains contained in their segments. The historical section of the film, replaying the murder of two young women in Nineteenth Century Norway, retains the elements of a low-key mystery. The two stories are interwoven; the choice to do so is good considering neither of the tales, on their own, merit enough interest to sustain autonomy. By layering it, it also helps to prompt the viewer as to the eventual motives, which become clearer with each proceeding image. Despite the effectiveness of McCormack, it still isn’t enough to pull rank on the more interesting — and better shot — storyline, which has the added benefit of Sarah Polley’s strong performance.
With Vinessa Shaw, Josh Lucas and Elizabeth Hurley.[Worth-seeing.]