From the Brazilian director of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’, an English-language re-make of Hideo Nakata's Japanese supernatural chiller. It doesn't quite ring true, does it? Neither does Walter Salles’ uncannily similar, yet utterly different, take on this material. Despite having retained the original’s plot, characters, setting and water-soaked ambience, Salles substitutes prosaic psycho-drama for emotionally-charged supernatural terror. The script by Rafael Yglesias (‘Fearless’, ‘From Hell’) retains all the salient details – a messy marital break-up, the couple’s disturbed daughter, an oppressive apartment block, a flood of water imagery – but empties them of all resonance and meaning.Conveying outer strength and inner fragility, Jennifer Connelly gives another credible performance as Dahlia Williams, a hard-working mother locked in a bitter custody battle with her husband Kyle (Dougray Scott), while struggling to raise her five-year-old daughter Ceci (Ariel Gade). A spreading water stain on the bedroom ceiling festers in Dahlia’s mind, fed by rumours of a missing girl and growing fears for her daughter’s safety. When Ceci starts talking to an imaginary friend called Natasha, painful memories of her own childhood exacerbate Dahlia’s mental instability. Eccentric attorney Jeff Platzer (Tim Roth) is sympathetic, but Dahlia gets no emotional support from her angry spouse, and no practical help from the building’s grumpy caretaker Veeck (Pete Postlethwaite), or slippery letting agent Mr Murray (John C Reilly). Salles’ aspirations to a Polanski-esque psychological horror are the opposite of Nakata's approach – he reveres films such as ‘The Haunting’, in which the supernatural forces are tangible, not the paranoid projections of a disturbed mind. More damaging still is Salles’ tendency to make what was oblique and implicit seem obvious and banal.
|Release date:||Friday July 22 2005|
Cast and crew
John C Reilly