Water (2005)

Directed by Deepa Mehta

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Deepa Mehta’s film Water. My impression going into it was it might be a little too earnest for my taste. But I’m happy to say that isn’t the case.

I watched it tonight and really liked it. As mentioned in one of the featurettes on the DVD, the way it is shot, the look, counterbalances to a degree the somewhat despairing aspect of the situation so you are not overwhelmed by it and continue to be carried along by the story. It’s as visually engaging as it is engaging in terms of the story, though in a different way.

(That probably makes no sense unless you’ve seen it — it simply means, it’s well lit, coloured, and shot — and the story is compelling.)

And I was happy that the theme, and how it is explored, is more than simply about women in history, some pretty awful conditions and a dreadul situation. Rather, it uses the situation of widows in India as a starting place to tell a much more encompassing human story.

I’m trying to explain this without explaining the story and probably haven’t done a good job. (I’m trying to avoid a recounting of the plot – something I generally find pointless in movie reviews and, in some cases, revealing of the movie in a way you don’t want.) I’m probably sounding more muddled than anything though I think what I’ve tapped out here makes a bit more sense once you’ve seen the movie.

The point of this post, however, is that this is a good film and well worth seeing. The story captures you and carries you along. It is definitely a film to be recommended as it is wonderfully shot and constructed (both in terms of story and visually).

On the two disc DVD edition that I have, (I dont think its available in the United States yet), there are two versions. One in Hindi with subtitles and another “alternate version” shot in English — not previously released. I have only seen the Hindi version so far so I’ve no idea what the English one is like.

But I would say this about the Hindi version. Unlike some subtitled movies, this film is very visual so following the subtitles is not that difficult. In fact, at times I forgot to read them as so much of the story is conveyed visually. (As opposed to some films where a great deal is in the dialogue and you can’t really watch the film — you’re too busy reading subtitles to follow the story.) So I think you’re probably better off watching the Hindi version. It is, after all, set in India, 1938.

(Originally written & published March 9, 2006.)

Water – Special Edition (2 discs):

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