Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Andrew Sarris loves Water:
Deepa Mehta’s Water, from her own screenplay, has been lingering around New York art theaters for weeks and weeks purely on the word-of-mouth reports of delighted and emotionally moved moviegoers. Quite frankly, that’s how I got to see it: Everyone I knew raved about it, and though I wasn’t exactly suspicious, I had only a very distant memory of Ms. Mehta’s Fire (1996) and Earth (1998), the first two parts of her trilogy on India, so I approached the film with the skeptical attitude of one who has been burned too many times by films with their hearts in the right place. I know that India in general, and Indian women in particular, have suffered many injustices in the country’s long colonial (and at times religiously intolerant) past. As the late Leo Durocher once remarked, when asked about his trading policy with the moribund New York Giants baseball team he had inherited: “Back up the truck!”

Much to my surprise, Water turned out to be not an addled piece of agitprop, as I had feared, but quite possibly the best picture of the year thus far, with no fewer than three of the most luminous female performances I have ever seen onscreen. The institutional horror and spiritual grandeur of the film creep up on you slowly, like the inexorable currents of the Ganges.
Damn, I'm disappointed I missed it! The same concerns kept me away as it lingered week after week here in Chicago, but now I'm chomping at the bit. Luckily, the DVD release is set for August 29th.


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