FILM REVIEW RATING: JUST ABOUT AVERAGE...
How far would you go to protect your child? We often hear parents say that they’d die for them, but dying is only going so far. What would you be willing to endure in the afterlife for your child ...and perhaps someone else’s kid?
In DARK WATER, directed by Walter Salles and starring Jennifer Connelly, we get to see exactly how far a damaged mother will go for her child.
Dahlia (Connelly) is going through a bitter divorce and custody battle. For her job’s sake, Dahlia is forced to move outside the hub of New York City and into a dark, dank apartment complex on Roosevelt Island. With her comes her daughter, Ceci (Ariel Gade), a ten-year-old with a perceptive extrasensory ability. Or does she have that ability? As soon as they enter the apartment complex, Ceci begins to feel poorly and asks to leave, but her mother insists that they check out the apartment. They soon move in and stranger things begin happening: dark water drips from the ceiling, Dahlia sees her mother (who’d abandoned her) in strange dreams, Ceci talks to an imaginary friend named Natasha, and the elevator button for their floor (#9) is burned or damaged.
As the plot unfolds, we learn that the neighbors directly above Dahlia and Ceci’s apartment were Russian immigrants who had a child, but neither the child nor the parents have been seen in some time. Did something foul happen to them? Further research by Dahlia’s divorce attorney (played by Tim Roth ) shows that the adults from the upstairs apartment are separated and living apart ...but neither of them have their daughter, who’s name happens to be Natasha. Where is she? Is she the same Natasha that Ceci talks to in her imagination? Are Ceci and Natasha somehow connected with the dark water dripping from their ceiling?
The tone and dark, wet scenes set the stage for DARK WATER in a very revealing fashion. Water plays a vital part of how the viewer perceives much of what is shown on-screen, giving the entire production a rather somber (if downright depressing) feel. This is the prime strength of the movie, getting us into how Jennifer Connelly’s character feels and why she reacts the way she does (especially after seeing her as a young girl in the opening scenes, waiting for her negligent mother to come and get her from school ...and again, it’s raining).
Much has been said about this film regarding how much was intended to be psychological versus supernatural. But for me, it was all supernatural. The only part the psychology of Connelly’s character played in the film was, again, helping set the tone and as a method for one ghostly apparition to feed off of. If Ceci (the daughter) can see the ghost, then it’s not a psychological breakdown on her mother’s part.
Comparisons between THE RING and THE GRUDGE are pretty obvious, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. But it did make me wonder about how many other thriller films out there are using the same format now. How about something original guys?