It is one of those rare moments in life, when you go to a movie theatre, and just purchase a ticket for the next-best movie, not knowing (or caring) what it is about. In one particular case, this was "Waterland", and the money felt well-spent. The original novel the film is based on is set in England. Incomprehensible as it may seem to some to change the setting to a place in the USA for those parts that describe the adult life of that frustrated and unhappy history teacher, it gives the story added depth. The angle from which the movie develops the plot (a teacher, exiled in the US if you will, is challenged from all sides to defend the value of history) is compelling since it unravels most beautifully and emotionally the teacher's own involvement with it. I do not want to give away what the story twists are, go into the film as I did. But the way the movie uses two different time lines to tell the whole story, and interweaves them artfully, is brillant. Jeremy Irons (I actually did not know him at the time, believe it or not) is most fitting as the main character. Ethan Hawke, well I guess they had to pick somebode to play a rebellious pupil, is not bad, but his performance does not contol the movie. Sinead Cusack, on the other hand, plays so convincingly the part of the teacher's wife, still hunted by the common past, that this role is sort of stuck to her in my view.