**1/2 (out of 5)
July 8, 2005
Jennifer Connelly as DAHLIA
John C. Reilly as MR. MURRAY
Tim Roth as JEFF PLATZER
Dougray Scott as KYLE
Pete Postlethwaite as VEECK
Camryn Manheim as TEACHER
Ariel Gade as CECI
Directed by: Walter Salles
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
In the DVD commentary of the subversive classic “Dark City,” the filmmakers talk about their female lead, Jennifer Connelly. In the commentary, the mention that while she had never done anything really noteworthy in film, every red-blooded American male knew who she was.
Even before she won an Oscar, if you were to ask a random guy on the street who she was, he’d probably be able to list at least two or three movies she’d been in – “The Rocketeer”… “Career Opportunities”… and “The Hot Spot” will always have a warm spot in my heart.
But amid winning Oscars, having a kid and becoming a leading lady, Jennifer Connelly lost something – about 50 pounds of meat from her bones. Sure, now she’s got a career, but she looks like death. Twiggy clothing hangs off her body like robes. And without a shred of body fat, her face is looking gaunt and craggy.
Oscar be damned. Give me the buxom girl from “Dark City” any day.
You might think this is a rather sexist way to launch a review of “Dark Water,” a psychological thriller about a single mom going through a nasty divorce. However, it is appropriate considering this film is nothing more than a blatant vehicle for Connelly. We’re forced to watch her act her heart out (over and over and over again) throughout the picture. Why can’t she be the voluptuous Jennifer Connelly all us horny teenage boys remember from the Target hobby horse?
I couldn’t help let my mind get sidetracked like this watching “Dark Water” mainly because I’d already seen most of the film in the movies “The Ring” and “The Ring Two.” Everything’s rehashed in the plot: the creepy dead girl… the drowning motif… the ghost wanting to become the child. Yeah, the setting is different, and the ghostly girl isn’t nearly as evil as the one from “The Ring,” but it still seemed to be a loose rewrite of the characters.
Admittedly, Connelly does a fine job with the material. But with no one else to balance the brunt of the plot with her, we’re left with continuous reminders that she can act. About half-way through the movie, I wanted to stand up and scream, “Okay, I get it! Jennifer Connelly is a great actor! Can we just get on with the story, please?”
I have a hunch that a few months from now when I revisit this flick on DVD, I’m going to like it much better. I’ll have accepted the blatant rip-offs of “The Ring,” and I’ll be able to look at it with a fresh eye. I’m sure then I’ll appreciate everything else in the picture – from the grimy production design to some powerful supporting roles brought to life by John C. Reilly, Tim Roth and Pete Postlethwaite.
But once I was able to get into Connelly’s character without having her Oscar clips rammed down my throat, I couldn’t help but think that the character was just a whack job. No wonder the guy divorced her. (I know, not terribly sympathetic. So it goes.)