Waterland (1992)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Based on the novel by Graham Swift, this drama follows the past and present crises of schoolteacher Tom Crick (Jeremy Irons), who attempts to resolve the problems in his own life and the apathy of his students by relating stories of his troubled childhood in the English Fens (a marshy region in Britain).

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Graham Swift, Peter Prince
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 9, 2006
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


as Tom Crick

as Matthew Price

as Scott

as Judy

as Young Tom

as Young Mary

as Henry Crick

as Freddie Parr

as Terry

as Maggie Ruth

as Ernest Atkinson

as Helen Atkinson

as Publican

as Rebecca Scott

as Guest at Dinner Part...

as Guest at Dinner Part...

as Guest at Dinner Part...

as Guest at Dinner Part...

as Guest at Dinner Part...

as Guest at Dinner Part...

as Guest at Dinner Part...

as Guest at Dinner Part...

as Stan Booth

as RAF Man 1

as RAF Man 2

as Senior Police Office...

as Baby's mother

as Martha Clay

as Stephen Bates

as Marshall

as Other Pupil

as Other Pupil

as Other Pupil

as Other Pupil

as Other Pupil

as Other Pupil

as Other Pupil

as Barman

as Other Pupil
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Critic Reviews for Waterland

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (6)

A talented but terminally parched piece of literary cinema.

Full Review… | February 23, 2012
Top Critic

It's a brave endeavour, held together by Robert Elswit's poetic photography, and by Irons' authoritative impression of the crumbling desperation behind the chalk-dusted facade of a pensive history man.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

With a dazed, frightened expression and the keen sense that his life is coming undone, Mr. Irons's Tom becomes a rivetingly sad figure, and a sharp focus for the film's many reveries.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Swift's elegant, descriptive phrases coexist inelegantly with classroom vulgarisms. And there almost making it all work as a portrait in despondency and realization is Irons, a walking requiem to lost innocence.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

The strange fact about "Waterland" is the way the performances and the dialogue are worthier than the story itself.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The adaptation doesn't quite hold. But in this flashback narrative, set in England's beautiful eastern wetlands, there are many passages of filmic -- and geographic -- beauty.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Waterland

Based on the novel by Graham Swift - a wonderful British author - Waterland tells the story of a history teacher who tells his students as much about himself as he does history. What is strong about the novel is what is weak about the film. The novel explores a post-modern conception of history that suggests we get stuck in these endless spirals of ironic happenstance, and in order to understand it all, we must go back, and in order to understand what we see when we go back, we must go back farther and farther. There's a little bit of this in the film, but certainly not enough for the audience to understand Swift's point. Instead of a complex exploration of post-modern theory and history, we're left with a fairly basic film about a man dealing with the events of his childhood. And how does that story fair? Not badly. It has its moments of affecting drama, both in the present and the past, but it's devoid of any grand significance. Additionally, the ending is too intentionally vague. We're given to understand certain conclusions about these characters' futures, but we can't figure out how they get from the point A, when the credits roll, to the point B, which we are told will happen. What is more, the plot-line between Crick and Price ends in a disappointing cliche.
Overall, I think I should like this film less than I do. In the end, I think the source material, Swift's book, is so good, and the performances by Irons, Cusack, and Warnock were good enough to make up for the failings of the screenwriter and director.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

A semi-interesting film... I think Jeremy Irons is a great actor and Ethan Hawke is pretty good as well, but this movie doesn't really show either of their potential...

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