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Waterland (1992)

tomatometer

50

Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.

audience

62

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 1,724

My Rating

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). ~ Iotis Erlewine, Rovi

R,

Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Graham Swift, Peter Prince

May 9, 2006

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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All Critics (12) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (5) | DVD (1)

A talented but terminally parched piece of literary cinema.

February 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop 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.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A flawed adaptation of Swift's novel, though the acting of Jeremy Irons and others is good.

July 15, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Gyllenhaal refers to Waterland as "a world of the mind." and it is an experience definitely worth exploring.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Too often the film is overly impressed with its own devices, and the story unfolds in such a haphazard manner that its emotions are muted.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

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.
November 24, 2010
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

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