The Weight of Water

dir. Bigelow

Opens Fri Dec 6

Various Theaters

The Weight Of Water is a two-in-one cinematic experience. Half of the film takes place in the present day, and the other is a creative reenactment of a 19th century true-crime mystery. The two stories are spliced together in an attempt to draw a comparison between two women's passionate instincts; they're actually not particularly comparable.

Catherine McCormack plays Jean, a magazine photographer sent on assignment to take photos of an old crime scene: a crumbling house on New Hampshire's Smuttynose Island. She drags along her drunken poet husband, Thomas (Sean Penn, who can't stop being sexy no matter how big his gut swells), with whom she is having under-explained marital troubles. His brother provides the boat and--surprise!--hottie new girlfriend Adaline (Liz Hurley). Adaline is a huge fan of Thomas's work, and spends every onscreen moment occupied with the task of finding moderately sized objects to put in her mouth.

Cut to the late 1800s, where Maren (Sarah Polley), a young Norwegian immigrant with a dirty secret, is living a stoic, hardworking life and enduring a loveless marriage. Eventually, her sister, brother and--surprise!--hottie new sister-in-law come to join them. Eventually, a brutal murder occurs, leaving both of her sisters dead.

Despite the fact that the "mystery" surrounding the murders is blatantly obvious within the first half-hour of the film, Maren's story is infinitely more interesting than Jean's. The contemporary contingent spends all their time chugging white wine, chain-smoking, and watching topless Adaline spit ice cubes out of her mouth so she can rub them on her ass. Despite the obviousness of Adaline's come-ons to Thomas, Jean obsesses herself with the murder case and supposed psychic connection she has to Maren.

The spliced climaxes of both stories are well edited, yet don't disguise the fact that their interrelatedness has not been convincingly illustrated. Both contain secrets of very different natures, and both experience jealousy under very different circumstances and manifestations. It just doesn't scream "psychic link." Which is not to say that it's not an entertaining or interesting story it simply fails to prove its symbolic point.