Dark Water dir. Salles
Opens Fri July 8
Various Theaters

Desperate to move away from the deadbeat father of her child, Dark Water's Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter, Ceci (Ariel Gade), find an apartment complex that resembles a penal colony. The dingy, cracked walls, cement floors, and ancient, skeletal elevator that plague this destitute hovel are reminiscent of the impoverished Central American streets that director Walter Salles evoked so vividly in his Motorcycle Diaries--and we can't but help but wonder why Connelly's stunning, impeccably stylish, and fully employed (with benefits!) Dahlia would move her kid in there, no matter how much she hates her old life.

The answer is, of course, obvious: this is Hollywood, and she just does, okay? And sure enough, some shit starts to go down. The kid gets one of those creepy "imaginary friends" that are all the rage these days and the faucets start pouring putrid water with a sinister randomness.

This "dark water" hinted at by the film's title does have its moments as it churns out of various outlets and drips from the ceiling in a disgusting ooze, but the story driving it forward somehow feel both empty and overstuffed. Turns out the imaginary friend in question has abandonment issues and so steers Connelly and Co. on a crash course to Scaresville to compensate. Connelly's Dahlia is plagued with abandonment issues of her own that are supposed to tie everything together via flashbacks and mutterings like "You were left. You were left behind, too." It's all very mechanical. A typically lively Tim Roth steps in midway as a lawyer who Dahlia hires to combat the deadbeat dad. But then the dad ends up being a decent guy after all (after being cartoonishly villainous at the outset), and Roth's character ends up being entirely pointless. In the end, you realize you've been watching the pretty bits and pieces of Dark Water swirl around the drain for two hours. When they finish emptying, there's nothing left but the cracked and dirty sink.