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Overall Rating

Awesome: 38.1%
Worth A Look45.24%
Average: 9.52%
Pretty Bad: 4.76%
Total Crap: 2.38%

3 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Water (2006)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by William Goss

"Hitched And Ditched"
4 stars

She had never realized that she was a wife, and she has now become a widow. At the age of eight.

A lesser film would be mercilessly manipulative, daring the viewer to not care about such a situation. In that sense, Water exhibits and maintains for the most part a filmmaker’s remarkable maturity, that of writer/director Deepha Mehta as she chronicles the captive lifestyle that young Chuyia (Sarala) must become accustomed to and the fundamentalist practices that are still in practice in India today. These women, of all ages, have their heads shaved and are draped in white before being relocated to a widow house, a dilapidated dwelling and practical limbo where they are outcast from society.

The scenes with Chuyia are intended to overwhelm the viewer with sheer pity and win them over with sheer purity, but her innocence often borders on irritation and her behavior is kept rather rudimentary. The crazy old kook rambles on about sweets, so after begging for money, Chuyia blows it all on a piece of candy for her. The mean fat witch cares only for her pet bird, so after throwing a tantrum, Chuyia dispatches of the screeching pest. Sarala conveys her juvenile naïveté just fine, but Mehta relies too much on placing her character in cloying situations before shifting the focus to the attractive Kalyani (Lisa Ray), who befriends Chuyia and is pimped out by the above-mentioned fat witch and her eunuch pal to earn income for the ashram. Kalyani falls for Narayana (John Abraham), an intellectual constantly singing the praises of Gandhi, whose work is bound to revolutionize the rights of women, even as the religiously devout claims that they may ignore inconvenient laws, such as the right for widows to remarry, as they wish.

The inclusion of Gandhi feels somewhat forced, as if foreign audiences required a historical figure to latch onto and connect with, and his climactic visit allows for a bittersweet conclusion but never registers with any proper weight or importance, coming off as more contrived that all that preceded it, which created sincere sympathy for those victims of fervent fundamentalism and its suffocating traditions. Then again, when one suggests that God could hear them as a cloud, let alone a statue, one realizes just how irrational the prospect of prayer is. However, Mehta is not intent on questioning religion, but only those who takes its practices to illogical, inhumane, and unreasonable ends. Even more disheartening is the likely logic behind such customs, shared by Narayana: "One less mouth to feed, four less saris, and a free corner in the house. Disguised as religion, it's just about money." Such treatment of widows is in all likelihood less about religion and more about finances, a radical loophole widely practiced throughout India. So prevalent are these practices that filming was interrupted by extremists and authorities and had to be eventually resumed in Sri Lanka several years later, only reinforcing Mehta’s dedication and accomplishment in depicting such stern conduct.

Although intermittently melodramatic and inevitably concerned with driving home a message, Mehta handles the material particularly well without being heavy-handed, instead eliciting natural concern for the plight of these women. Even if a bit dry, 'Water' is still enlightening, compelling, and gorgeous to look at, in spite of the distressing subject matter.

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originally posted: 05/28/06 18:54:14
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest For more in the 2006 Deep Focus Film Fest series, click here.

User Comments

7/11/10 brian Manages to take a fascinating story and make it bo-o-o-ring! Looks great, at least. 3 stars
5/12/07 jaideep singh a fucked up movie 1 stars
5/06/07 Ahmed One word for it " Inspiring" 5 stars
1/07/07 Frank Rountree hey, I only watched cause I was desparate, YUCK! 2 stars
10/16/06 shantan flawless movie.congracys deepa mehta and the cast,hope she makes many such movies. 5 stars
9/18/06 kathy rose As a widow I was struck to my core by this film 5 stars
8/29/06 K.Sear Unfortunately, it just couldn't be moved by this film. "Fire" set my expectations too high 3 stars
8/15/06 Rohit Proud: Made by an Indian Disappointed: The practice still runs in India! 5 stars
7/15/06 jcjs wow, sad, beautiful, smart, graceful, much finer than 'Geisha', visual orgasm, wonderfu 5 stars
6/26/06 Harriet Epstein A little slow at times, but overall interesting, exotic, aesthetic and worth seeing 4 stars
6/23/06 jo the visual puts you in a meditative state 5 stars
6/19/06 g.wickremesooriya fantastic.......... hard to imagine that this practice is still prevalent in India! 5 stars
6/09/06 Dipesh Dhakal From every angle the film is perfect 5 stars
6/02/06 San Lamar check it out 3 stars
5/30/06 Dee Beautifully shot and acted 5 stars
5/24/06 Natasha and Noah Brenner Outstanding movie, beautiful photography 5 stars
5/16/06 phil s Cliched feel good story. Serious are touched upon, but its all too sanitary and trivialized 2 stars
5/07/06 pulkit Excellent movie 5 stars
4/27/06 Dilip Dhakal A moving piece of artwork, boldly challenges the outdated practices of Indian society. 5 stars
4/16/06 Babu Shankar An Highly thought provocoing is sad to know that this tradition is still continuin 5 stars
4/09/06 Rina Siddiqui Excellent 5 stars
11/18/05 M Smith Best Movie of The Year 5 stars
9/10/05 Meredith Halpern Wow. An incredibly powerful movie. Beautiful to watch. 5 stars
8/16/05 nehal cool 3 stars
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  28-Apr-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 29-Aug-2006



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Deepa Mehta

Written by
  Deepa Mehta

  Lisa Ray
  Seema Biswas
  Kulbhushan Kharbanda
  Waheeda Rehman
  Raghuvir Yadav
  Vinay Pathak

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