Telling two interwoven stories (one past, one present) of love, loss and passion, it is a highly complex and subtle study of human nature. Running the risk of becoming generic or cliched through film format, this tale of moments in two women's lives excells at creating empathy with all the characters, and kept me thoroughly interested throughout.
Deviating from the novel's plot left me baffled however, as the alternative ending seemed to parallel too closely and too obviously with the other story told. The point of Shreeve's novel, I feel, is to find the importance and humanity - maybe even beauty - in 'feeling' despite the pain it can cause, and the original ending was certainly painful and far more traumatic. That said, it was still terribly interesting and saddening, and perhaps was all a viewer could take without breaking into tears!
Most interestingly about this film, is that viewing it was a joy. Instead of becoming angered by distances from the book I was intrigued by how well the details matched my imagined ones. Details were retained which didn't give much to the viewer who hadn't read the novel, but this only added to it's believable depth and kept those who had happy. Such details where even heightened through wonderfully cropped filming of the present day characters, where the structures and shapes of the claustrophobic little yacht (our main setting) emphasised the strength and personal history of the emotion involved. The soundtracking was also very sensitively composed giving extra depths to our understanding of the characters and the atmospheres of the different times and moments.
The only greivance I have is that by ending the film in the way they did, they cannot make it's sister story into a film which works with this one. Without giving the game away (!), a character dies in the movie who is alive in another of Shreeve's books (The Last Time They Met) which occurs later in time than The Weight of Water! But all I can really say in conclusion about this topic, is that having read those two books and viewed this movie, my appreciation of both was only increased.
I am greatly hoping that if another adaptation is to be made of a Shreeve novel it is as subtle, beautiful and understanding as this one.
Hey, Liz Hurley was even good as the other woman, so it's a quality film all round! Brilliant acting, brilliant story, brilliant settings, filming and soundtracking.
See it! Then read both the books!
Jean Janes (McCormack) a news photographer is assigned the job of researching a double-murder on the Isles of Shoals on 6 March 1873 as a parallel comment on a current crime. Persuading her husband’s brother Rich (Lucas) to take them on his boat including his girl friend Adaline (Hurley). Jean is already worried about her husband Thomas (Penn) and her share of the angst intensifies with the astute understanding Adaline has of Thomas’s poems and her subtle hitting on him. This works very well within the claustrophobic confines of the boat, but somehow the tension never really materialises, I think the pace is wrong.
Back to 1873 and we find ourselves in typical Scandinavian territory familiar to fans of Igmar Bergman. Two sisters, their brother and his wife gradually divulge the guilty secrets of their past, building up to the horrific climax when two of the sisters are axed to death. This part of the film works very well, and would have made an excellent movie without the overlaying of the modern story.
Acting is par for the course but unless you are fans of the stars, or Anita Shreve whose novel it is based on, there are probably better way to spend an evening.
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