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Critics Weigh In on Weight of Water Movie


Everywhere else, it was just a movie. Around here in the Seacosat where the real homicides too place, the Smuttynose murder story is still told. So what happens when Hollywood meets history? The initial critical response was devastating and the movie sunk like a stone. Read on




Sample Film Reviews from 2003

When the film Weight of Water finally hit a small number of theaters after sitting on the shelf for two years, film critics hacked it to ribbons. That’s too bad, since there was much to say in favor of the historical portion of the film set in Maine and New Hampshire in 1873. But the filmmakers chose to downplay the historical portion of the story, based on a novel by Anita Shreve, and banked on its big stars Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurely. Bad move. The result is now history. See our detailed SMUTTYNOSE MURDER section online.

READ OUR local review of Weight of Water, the movie

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun
Rated 2 Stars

"The Weight of Water" tells two stories… While either one of the stories could make a plausible thriller, the movie's structure undercuts them both...The older story is the more absorbing."

"The movie was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, whose ‘Strange Days’ (1995) was a smart futuristic thriller...but with "The Weight of Water" I think her problems began with the very decision to tell these two stories alternately."

J. Hoberman, Village Voice
Rated 2 1/2 Stars

"Bigelow weaves this ambiguous marital thriller with a more compelling Nordic tale of incest, jealousy, and murder."

"But like Bigelow's earlier movies, it's lazily scripted. The plot is filled with inconsistencies; the dialogue borders on risible. The experience is structural and visual/".

James Berardinelli, ReelViews

… with The Weight of Water, Bigelow has taken a big step backwards. Despite a top-notch cast and some evocative photography, this movie is stillborn. Its lengthy period of inertia in the vaults of Lions Gate Films is as good an indicator as anything of its lack of prospects."

Geri Pare, Catholic News Service

"As the characters in the contemporary story don't have a lot to say, and the fact-based 19th-century tale is one-note grim and gloomy, the movie isn't terribly satisfying."

Stephen Holden in the NY Times

"There is so much to admire.. that when the movie finally collapses on itslef late in the game, it leaves you in the frustrating position of having to pick up the scattered pieces and assemble them as best you can."

Vassar Girl on
Rated 4 Stars

"It is difficult to blend past and present action seamlessly, but director Kathryn Bigelow does it quite well."

Erica Abeel in Film Journal International

"Bigelow and writers Alice Arlen and Christopher Kyle have clunkily adapted the movie from the atmospheric best-selling novel by Anita Shreve..."

"With one exception, the acting is deplorable...Only the marvelous Sarah Polley shines as Maren, the ill-used wife..."

Megan Turner in New York Post
Rated 2 Stars

'"The Weight of Water, adapted from Anita Shreve's best-selling novel, premiered two years ago at the Toronto Film Festival and it's grown slightly moldy on the shelf awaiting a cinematic release."

"All the elements are in place for an entertaining murder mystery, but as Bigelow meanders aimlessly back and forth through time, the plot becomes increasingly water-logged."

David Germain, AP Movie Writer

"Kathryn Bigelow's "The Weight of Water" may be the year's most suitably titled movie, a dense, pressing drama that's impressively fluid in reach but which ultimately drowns in its own gravity."

Carla Meyer in SF Chronicle

"The 1870s scenes provide more intrigue.. and the other featuring such badly drawn characters that the outcome hardly matters."

Loren King in Chicago Tribune

"(The)...contemporary, sexually-charged tangle pales next to the grisly 1873 crime of passion and revenge that is the film's far richer companion plot."

Manohla Dargis,

"The Weight of Water" depends on a seamless integration of Jean and Maren's stories for the larger narrative to work -- but even with Bigelow's fluid editing, the strands never convincingly plait together."

Kristin Proulx, Concord Monitor

"Seacoast residents have anticipated the movie's arrival since shooting began in 1999. What's surprising is how long it took Hollywood to sink its claws into the strange tale. Had these crimes been committed 100 years later, Maren Hontvedt would still be cashing her royalty checks."

Evan Kilgore, Daily Trojan at So.Cal. Univ.

"It's really too bad, because the acting is superb and nearly every other aspect of the movie is, too. Unfortunately, the icing needs a cake to sit on — a movie without a story is not much of a movie at all."

Staci Layne Wilson, Fantastica Daily
Rated 2 1/2 Stars

"If for nothing else, see this movie for the tremendous acting. Polley and Hurley are the real standouts -- in fact, this may be each of their best work to date."

Ross Williams, Film Threat

"Weight of Water" has way too much story going on for it's own good. None of the characters or plot-lines are fleshed-out enough to build any interest."

Jan Stuart,
Rated 2 1/2 Stars

"Kathryn Bigelow's attractive film version of Anita Shreve's novel is a gripping plunge but a remote one, suffering from the weight of one too many inexpressible thoughts."

"...a clumsy adaptation of Anita Shreve's much-lauded novel."


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