Waterland - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Waterland Reviews

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½ December 20, 2015
I usually don't mind lugubrious movies with Jeremy Irons in them, but this one is a bit too waterlogged even for me. A fen of stagnant waters? As a 63-year-ol teacher, perhaps it's the theme of a burnt out teacher that doesn't work for me. The device of having the teacher take his students on a tour through his past life is elegant, but somehow the whole is less than its parts. I'm going to read the book for a book group, so I hope I'll like it better.
August 23, 2013
I am going to pass on this one.
½ March 12, 2012
A lost gem that I'm glad i actually watched in class today. Everyone who knows me knows that I am such a sucker for dramas and Waterland is no exception. This movie tells the tale of a high school teacher in 1974 that tells his history class the story of his past which represents why storytelling and history is still relevant today. Tom Crick is the name of the professor and he not only can't get his students involved, but his wife is slowly slipping away and is becoming a danger to others. The film is beautifully shot and the story is so so touching. I really enjoyed this movie, but it still does have some flaws. The scenes of the teacher telling his story and out of nowhere his class is there with him and interacting with people from the past was a little far fetched and took away from the tone of the film. Ethan Hawke's character Matthew Price seemed to kind of befriend the teacher too easily when he was being such a bad ass in the beginning as well it woulda been nice to see the character development happen a bit stronger there. Overall, i highly recommend checking this out still if your a drama fan!
hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
November 24, 2010
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.
June 12, 2010
The performances and the dialogue are worthier than the story itself.
April 15, 2010
Jeremy Irons stars as Tom Crick, a morose (typical Irons) history teacher who's past is full of tragedies and oddly grim experiences. He becomes nervous after being unable of successfully teaching his students about the French revolution, so he starts sharing his painful experiences about his teenage days.

The most interesting part about the plot is how he describes his past in the fenlands of England, and storytelling takes an interesting turn where there's a point in which the line between present and past blurs, showing Jeremy Irons with his students as if they were going to a field trip through Irons's story. Ethan Hawke plays a rebellious student who begins questioning Crick's stories and tells him that he just wants to keep the students interested.

Another key character in the story is Tom Crick's wife Mary, who shared much of Tom's experiences in the past to the point where it's shown that they used to have sex in an abandoned mill. Something crucial happens that also involves Tom's mentally handicapped brother leading to a tragic chapter in Tom's life. Mary becomes unable to bear a baby and that troubles her to the point of stealing a baby.

Waterland is a touching film, the events are shown carefully through Crick's stories. Everything that happens contributes to Crick's pain and it's not hard to see why. In Crick's stories we see how he begins as a carefree, joyful teenager and slowly becomes depressed because of the events told in the stories.

It is a very recommendable film, even though it has it's flaws. The developing of the plot is very original and interesting because of its careful structure, and the performances are excellent, even better than the plot itself, Jeremy Irons holds everything together pretty well with his performance and in the end the viewer really feels sad for Irons's character.
April 15, 2010
Jeremy Irons stars as Tom Crick, a morose (typical Irons) history teacher who's past is full of tragedies and oddly grim experiences. He becomes nervous after being unable of successfully teaching his students about the French revolution, so he starts sharing his painful experiences about his teenage days.

The most interesting part about the plot is how he describes his past in the fenlands of England, and storytelling takes an interesting turn where there's a point in which the line between present and past blurs, showing Jeremy Irons with his students as if they were going on a field trip through Irons's story. Ethan Hawke plays a rebellious student who begins questioning Crick's stories and tells him that he just wants to keep the students interested.

Another key character in the story is Tom Crick's wife Mary, who shared much of Tom's experiences in the past to the point where it's shown that they used to have sex in an abandoned mill. Something crucial happens that also involves Tom's mentally handicapped brother leading to a tragic chapter in Tom's life. Mary becomes unable to bear a baby and that troubles her to the point of stealing a baby.

Waterland is a touching film, the events are shown carefully through Crick's stories. Everything that happens contributes to Crick's pain and it's not hard to see why. In Crick's stories we see how he begins as a carefree, joyful teenager and slowly becomes depressed because of the events told in the stories.

It is a very recommendable film, even though it has it's flaws. The developing of the plot is very original and interesting because of its careful structure, and the performances are excellent, even better than the plot itself, Jeremy Irons holds everything together pretty well with his performance and in the end the viewer really feels sad for Irons's character.
½ January 9, 2010
I find it so difficult to judge movies based on books that I've already read. Typically friends suggest that I wait to see a movie until I've read the book, reasoning that seeing a movie first somehow will spoil or taint or color the experience of reading the book ("You won't be able to help thinking of Tom as Jeremy Irons," as in this case. Actually, that might have been true in this case -- Tom, in my mind, was older and much fatter and not as good looking as Jeremy Irons.)

But in general I think the opposite is more true. Even though I didn't like the movie version of "Prozac Nation," it did make me curious enough about the book so that maybe someday I will read it (if only to see if the book was as bad as the film).

In this case, with "Waterland," it's impossible for me to know what it would have been like to see the movie without having read the book (especially since I just finished reading the book last week). Would the movie have been effective on its own? Because that of course is the key question. NOT how loyal was the movie to the book (in this case, not very) - who cares? The movie needs to be judged on its own, as a standalone creation or work of art.

But I can't tell where the movie left off in my mind and the book filled in the blanks.

I have the sense that the movie wasn't very good, and that I filled in a LOT. But I really can't know that. So all I have left is the vague sensation that it wasn't a very good movie.
½ September 22, 2009
Many years ago it seems now, I was suffering from another bout of insomnia, as well as writer's block and I was flipping through channels until I came to IFC and I stumbled upon this wonderful movie. Naturally, I had to watch it because it had my all-time favorite actor, Jeremy Irons in it. How could I not? As it turned out, I loved this beautiful little movie that no-one saw when it came out in theaters back in 1992. I didn't know it was based on a novel until recently so I went and I bought it. Now it waits patiently for me to devour it as soon as this semester is through. I haven't seen this movie in a very long time but there are images from it that have stayed with me like the drifting spirits in the Fens. The cinematography in this film was breathtaking and I found out that it was done by the master, Robert Elswit who did the cinematography for 8MM.

Not for the faint of heart but if you like a really great story like I do, this one will not disappoint.
April 13, 2009
With famous faces like Lena Headey, Ethan Hawke and even (a glimpse of) Maggie Gyllenhaal. Yay!
January 14, 2009
Hands down my favourite film ever. Seen it a million times. Both funny and poignant.
August 5, 2008
A flawed movie but it has an incredible score by Carter Burwell and Jeremy Irons' performance is one of the best of his career. The director was trying a little too hard to capture what must be a dizzying novel.
July 19, 2008
Poignant, evocative and heartfelt.
½ July 18, 2008
Moody and deliberately paced film is not for everyone. If you're game, the movie has its own unique rewards. The entire cast excels, the movie looks terrific, and director Stephen Gyllenhaal needs to make more movies.
June 1, 2008
One of those multiple-story films, extremely well done, interweaving history teacher's experience in the present with stories from the past, all to answer his students' questions about what's the use of history. Jeremy Irons is brilliant, and the book (by Graham Swift) is more than worth reading as well.
½ May 26, 2008
Jeremy Irons is a legend in his own time. A very moody and thoughtful film...don't expect sunshine and daisies.
May 14, 2008
Jeremy Irons was awesome, as expected. Tough life topics though -- very artistically experienced and superb acting throughout!
May 10, 2008
Jeremy Irons is brilliant in this movie. It will make you cry at how well acted it is.
May 4, 2008
Hey Gang! Let's put on a show that makes people seriously want to kill themselves! I'll get the costumes and the cynanide! I can't tell if this was good or bad, but if you feel like wallowing in uncorrected clinical depression this is your movie. *directed by Jake Gyllenhall's dad.
½ April 15, 2008
A bizarre, fear-ridden, navel-gazing, backward-looking film, about a particular kind of Larkinesque eastern British miserabilism transported to 1970's America.

I cannot believe this film ever got made. It is about history and its arresting consequences, Jeremy Irons is in his anxious, weatherbeaten element as Tom Crick, a self-obsessed history teacher. The famous Gyllenhaal father directs the timebending plot with great verve and imagination, and Lena Heady is wonderful as the young Mrs Crick
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