Lightning Over Water (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes

Lightning Over Water (1980)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Lightning Over Water Photos

Movie Info

Lightning Over Water is a penetrating documentary of the last days of cult film director Nicholas Ray. The film was lovingly assembled by Wim Wenders, whose idolatry of Ray is obvious in virtually every frame of his own work. Dying slowly of cancer, Ray reflects on a lifetime of accomplishments, failures and compromises, with plenty of screen time given over to his reminiscences of Joan Crawford, James Dean and others who appeared in his films. Most of the film was lensed in Ray's modest New York City loft, a sharp and poignant contrast to the comparative luxury of his Hollywood years. Lightning Over Water has also been released as Nick's Film. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Nicholas Ray
as Nicholas Ray
Wim Wenders
as Wim Wenders
Gerry Bamman
as Gerry Bamman
Ronee Blakely
as Ronee Blakley
Pierre Cottrell
as Pierre Cottrell
Tommy Farrell
as Tom Farrell
Becky Johnston
as Becky Johnston
Edward Lachman
as Edward Lachman
Craig T. Nelson
as Craig Nelson
Martin Schäfer
as Martin Schafer
Chris Sievernich
as Chris Sievernich
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Critic Reviews for Lightning Over Water

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (2)

Even with its painful contradictions and discomfitures, it's that current rarity: one for the heart.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Lightning Over Water is chaotic, emotionally and esthetically.

October 20, 2004 | Rating: 2/5

It's a fitting heartfelt tribute to Ray.

April 3, 2013 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

A poignant and often painful film in which Wenders and the terminally ill Ray attempt to make a film together in the last days before Ray's death in 1979.

October 22, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Unquestionably the worst movie of Wim Wenders' career and indeed one of the worst movies ever made...

December 21, 2006 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…

Wenders adds in some cruddy early-80s video from time to time, and the film is an odd mixture of powerful emotions and rambling nothingness.

May 26, 2006 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Lightning Over Water


"Lightning over Water" is an intriguing documentary/fiction hybrid that begins with a jetlagged Wim Wenders arriving in New York to help his friend and hero Nicholas Ray complete one last film before he succumbs to lung cancer which he is in the painful final stages of. So while those preparations are being made, occasionally a handheld Super 8 camera is used to show the film crew working behind the scenes. While digressive at times, especially one sequence involving rehearsals for a Chekhov play, "Lightning over Water" has some very good thoughts on the subject of mortality and how truly inescapable it is. Not only that but the movie is also concerned with the changes that go along with the passage of time like when Ray and his crew travel to Vassar, now co-ed, to screen one of his old films. Plus, we are also treated to a neat view of bygone New York City, circa 1979.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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