Ralph Breaks the Internet
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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All Critics (15)
| Top Critics (6)
| Fresh (8)
| Rotten (7)
| DVD (1)
A talented but terminally parched piece of literary cinema.
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.
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.
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.
The strange fact about "Waterland" is the way the performances and the dialogue are worthier than the story itself.
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.
The odd thing about Waterland is that despite the extreme evens it depicts -- murder, incest, betrayal, drowning, abortion, baby-snatching, madness, job losses etc. -- it seems rather tame.
Screenwriter Peter Prince's adaptation of Graham Swift's much praised novel has a keen surreal edge that slices through barriers separating the past and the present.
Incest, drowning, teenage sex on a train: it's all here, but none of it clings to your mind.
A flawed adaptation of Swift's novel, though the acting of Jeremy Irons and others is good.
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.
Gyllenhaal refers to Waterland as "a world of the mind." and it is an experience definitely worth exploring.
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.
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