fb pixel

Log In


Reset Password

MOVIE REVIEW

‘Water’ tells lyrical, tragic story of India in a beautiful way

Tidings Reviewer

— — — — IF YOU GO

— — — Starring Seema Biswas, Lisa Ray, John Abraham — and Sarla

— Directed by Deepa Mehta

— Not rated

— —

“Water” is lyrical. Written and directed by Deepa Mehta, it is immediately involving, a film of social criticism that never becomes pedantic. Set in India, in 1938, during the twilight of British colonial rule, it is filled with images of startling beauty and haunting tragedy.

According to the ancient Hindu holy texts, a widow has three choices should her husband die: she can join him on his funeral pyre; marry his younger brother; or live the rest of her life in a place apart, chaste, forbidden to ever marry again. For young brides it can mean, as it does in “Water,” that an 8-year-old girl can be joined in marriage to an older man and should he die then she is destined, according to custom and scripture, to live the rest of her days away from family, cloistered in an ashram, among other widows who face the same fate.

The widows of India, deemed an underclass, outcasts, beg on the streets, remain uneducated, and are so marginalized that they all but disappear.

In the opening set up we see a small girl, Chuyia, riding on a cart with the body of her dead husband. She, of course, has no idea what has happened, nor what it will mean for the rest of her years.

Understanding only that this elderly man, whom she never really knew, is gone, she asks to go home. She calls for her mother. She pleads with her father. Instead, according to religious custom, he takes his small daughter to an ashram and leaves her with the women, knowing that he will never see her again.

The faces of the widows of the ashram bear the wretched testimony of their loss — not of their husbands, but of the years — lives never lived, only passed. The sadness, the longing is writ large, most especially in the eyes of the devout Shakuntua (Seema Biswas) who believes in the Hindu teachings, but is also profoundly aware of the injustice perpetrated against the women who are widows.

Watching Chuyia reminds her of how a life, so filled with vitality and rebellion and optimism, can be truncated by religion in its most extreme. She realizes that she, and the women trapped in the cloister of the ashram, are damaged by tenets that seem cruelly arbitrary and little more.

While a love story is at the center of the film, between Kaylani, a young, beautiful widow, and Narayan, the son of a wealthy Brahmin, “Water” is, in essence, about a shift in perspective. Shakuntual begins to wonder if the physical and emotional incarceration of widows isn’t a stunning miscarriage of justice.

The widows of the ashram also become a powerful metaphor. In 1938, Ghandi had appeared on India’s horizon and its people were beginning to find their own voice, daring to imagine life free of colonial rule. British domination, so accepted, so much a part of Indian life, was at the tipping point.

The great irony of this film is that while India secured its independence, freed itself from the countless assumptions that were its shackles, the widows of India, some 30 million, continue to be incarcerated by the fanaticism of religious dogma. “Water” makes this provocative point in a most melancholy way.

— NOW PLAYING

An Inconvenient Truth

Former Vice President Al Gore’s crusade to raise awareness of global warming, warning us we have only 10 years to try and avert a major catastrophic climatic tailspin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced. With wit, smarts and hope, Gore brings home his persuasive argument that we can no longer afford to view global warming as a political issue rather, it is the biggest moral challenge facing our global civilization. A Davis Guggenheim documentary

— PG for mild thematic elements/98m/F/Paramount Classics

— Strangers

— with Candy

A prequel to the critically acclaimed Comedy Central series of the same name. It is the tale of Jerri Blank, a forty-seven year old ex-con junky who decides to return home after thirty-two years as a runaway. She discovers that her earlier disappearance caused her father to slip into a coma. In an outrageous attempt to awaken Dad’s comatose mind, Jerri resumes her teenage life exactly where she left it - as a high school freshman. Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Carlo Alban, Maria Thayer, Greg Holliman, Ian Holm, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Allison Janney, Philip Seymour Hoffman

— R for sexual content, language and some drug material/98m/F/ThinkFilm

— Clerks II

In this long-awaited sequel to the 1994 cult classic, 33-year-old New Jersey mini-mart clerks and best friends Dante Hicks and Randal Graves have it made. They work with each other, slack off all day, and get paid for it. But when the local Quick Stop that has been their entire life suffers a cataclysm, Dante and Randal have to do the unthinkable - find new minimum-wage jobs. Now, they’re bringing their rapid-fire , one-liners, bad attitudes and unbridled love of fun at the customer’s expense to Mooby’s burger joint Written and Directed by Kevin Smith (“Clerks”, “Mallrats”, “Chasing Amy”, “Dogma”) Brian O’Halleron, Jeff Anderson, Rosario Dawson, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck

— R for pervasive sexual and crude content including aberrant sexuality, strong language and some drug material/98m/F/MGM

— Prairie Home Companion

A look at what goes on backstage at one of America’s most celebrated radio shows. Singing cowboys, a country music siren, a gumshoe and a host of others hold court on their last show after being bought out. Directed by Robert Altman (“Gosford Park”, “Nashville”) Meryl Streep, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Lyle Lovett, Lindsay Lohen, Virginia Madsen, Tommy Lee Jones, Maya Rudolph

— PG-13 for risque humor/105m/S/Picturehouse

— Water

In Hindi with English subtitles Set in 1938 Colonial India, against Mahatma Gandhi’s rise to power, a young girl is widowed and sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. She does not know that according to Hindu scriptures she is destined to live there for the rest of her life, for when a woman’s husband dies, she has three options. One is to marry her husband’s younger brother, two is to kill herself on his funeral pyre, and three is to live a life of celibacy, discipline, and solitude amongst her own kind. A fourth law permits a widow to re-marry but is not fully accepted. Her feisty presence deeply affects the lives of the other residents, including a young widow who falls for a Gandhian idealist. Written and Directed by Deepa Mehta (“Fire”, “Earth”) Seema Biswas, Lisa Ray, John Abraham, Rishma Malik

— PG-13 for mature thematic material involving sexuality, and for brief drug use/118m/F/Fox Searchlight

— Devil Wears Prada

— A small town girl in her first job out of college tries to navigate the waters of the high-powered fashion magazine world - while surviving her impossibly demanding new boss. Based on the 2003 novel by Lauren Weisberger. Meryl Streep, Ann Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker, Emily Blunt, Adrian Grenier

— PG-13 for some sensuality/109m/S/Fox

— Pirates of the

— Caribbean:

— Dead Man’s Chest

Captain Jack Sparrow dowes a blood debt to the legendary Davey Jones, and must find a way out of his debt or else be doomed to eternal damnation and servitude in the afterlife. Directed by Gore Verbenski (“The Ring”, “The Mexican”, “Mousehunt”) Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Stellan Skarsgård, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Naomie Harris, Jonathan Pryce

— PG-13 for intense sequnces of adventure violence, including frightening images/151m/S/Buena Vista

— My Super

— Ex-Girlfriend

A man learns his high maintenance girlfriend is a superhero. When he breaks up with her, she uses her super abilities to torment and humiliate him. Directed by Ivan Reitman (“Six Days, Seven Nights”, “Dave”, “Twins”) Luke Wilson, Uma Thurman, Anna Faris, Eddie Izzard

— PG-13 for sexual content, crude humor, language and brief nudity/95m/S/Fox

— Lady in the Water

A building superintendent discovers a fairytale creature (a “narf”) in his apartment building’s pool. As he falls in love with her, he teams with the other tenants to protect her from the deadly creatures who are after her. Based on a bedtime story Shyamalan made up for his children. Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan (“Sixth Sense”, “Signs”) Paul Giamatti, Dallas Bryce Howard

— PG-13 for some frightening sequences/110m/F/WB

— Monster House

Three children realize a neighbor’s house is really a monster, but no adults believe them. Uses performance capture animation, as did “Polar Express”. Voice talents of Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Kevin James, John Heder

— PG for scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor and brief language/91m/S/Sony

— Little Man

A man anxious to be a father mistakes an extremely short baby-faced criminal on the run as his newly adopted son. Written and Directed by Kennan Ivory Wayans (“Scary Movie”, “White Chicks”) Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Kerry Washington, Chazz Palminteri, Molly Shannon

— PG-13 for crude and sexual humor throughout, language and brief drug references/98m/F/Sony

— Superman Returns

Superman returns to Earth after a mysterious absence of several years, only to find that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor has a plan that could kill billions of people. Directed by Bryan Singer (“X-Men”, “X-2”, “The Usual Suspects”) Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Frank Langella, Eva Marie Saint, Parker Posey

— PG-13 for some intense action violence/157m/S/Warner Bros.

— You, Me and

— Dupree

A newlywed couple’s problems are magnified when the groom’s out-of-work meddlesome best man moves in and becomes beloved by almost all. Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Michael Douglas

PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity, crude humor, language and a drug reference/107m/F/Universal