The Weight of Water


The Weight of Water

Critics Consensus

The story is too muddled to build any interest.



Total Count: 65


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,523
User image

Watch it now

The Weight of Water Photos

Movie Info

Journalist Jean Janes begins researching the 1873 axe-murder of two sisters and discovers new information in the case. Meanwhile, her marriage to writer Thomas begins to fall apart.


Sean Penn
as Thomas Janes
Sarah Polley
as Maren Hontvedt
Elizabeth Hurley
as Adaline Gunne
Josh Lucas
as Rich Janes
Ciarán Hinds
as Louis Wagner
Ulrich Thomsen
as John Hontvedt
Anders W. Berthelsen
as Evan Christenson
Katrin Cartlidge
as Karen Christenson
Rita Kvist
as Young Maren
Vinessa Shaw
as Anethe Christenson
View All

Critic Reviews for The Weight of Water

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (42)

  • The boating scenes have a languid yet charged sexuality, and the performances remain vibrant and rock-solid to the end.

    May 30, 2011
  • Artistically speaking, Bigelow's drama may be her most ambitous and personal film to date, a multi-layered (period and contemporary) psychological thriller that borrows from Bergman's masterpiece Persona; commercially, however, it's problematic.

    Dec 20, 2006 | Rating: B-

    Emanuel Levy

    Top Critic
  • The jarring jumps between disconnected stories and watered-down sensationalism make for a soggy experience.

    Dec 19, 2002 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
  • The Weight of Water uses water as a metaphor for subconscious desire, but this leaky script barely stays afloat.

    Dec 13, 2002 | Rating: 2/4
  • There are a few wrong notes, and the ending is too enigmatic for its own good, but for a studio production the film is uncommonly intelligent and uncompromising.

    Dec 13, 2002 | Rating: A-
  • Shreve's graceful dual narrative gets clunky on the screen, and we keep getting torn away from the compelling historical tale to a less-compelling soap opera.

    Nov 15, 2002 | Rating: 2/4

Audience Reviews for The Weight of Water

  • Jun 06, 2017
    Either one of the two stories might have been engaging on their own, if they hadn't shown their hand from the very start. A disappointment to know this comes from Kathryn Bigelow.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 10, 2013
    You would have expected more from Bigelow's directorial debut particularly when she had Sean Penn and Sarah Polley to use but this is a boat that seems to drift endlessly with the unlikely revelation of a centuries old murder. A head scratcher by the time the credits roll.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2012
    The Weight of Water follows two stories, one about a mysterious double murder in the 1870s, the other a modern day story line that seeks answers to the first. Both are interesting, but the older one much more so. The biggest problem the movie are the shifts between the two, which undercut the effectiveness of both narratives, giving the film a disjointed feel. There's enough to like about both plot lines to keep it interesting, especially the acting, but unfortunately kept down from some ineffective direction.
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • May 09, 2010
    This movie switches between the lurid and sensational axe murder of two women in 1873 and the modern day story of a newspaper photographer, Jean (Catherine McCormack) who is researching the crime over 100 years later. Sarah Polley's performance as Maren Hontredt, a young and hard-working Norwegian woman bought to this land far away from her family and married to a much older man is compelling and gripping. She struggles with a cold marriage, a desperate secret and a building internal rage that threatens her sanity. The past sequences were awesome, but I found the present day scene was predictable and lacked character development and continuity. Nevertheless Sean Penn is engaging to watch, and Liz Hurley is well cast as a flirty seductress. "Women's motives are always more concealed than men's," and this is revealed as we witness the powerful fury of violent emotions that sometimes overtake good people and move them to acts of horror.
    Deb S Super Reviewer

The Weight of Water Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features