Directed by Walter Salles, starring Jennifer Connelly, Ariel Gade, John C Reilly, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott, Pete Postlethwaite, Camryn Manheim, Perla Haney-Jardine, Debra Monk, Linda Edmond and Bill Buell.
Jennifer Connelly puts in a fine leading performance in this hit and miss effort from director Walter Salles ('The Motorcycle Diaries'). Connelly plays Dahlia Williams, a young mother who goes to extreme lengths to solve a creepy mystery and protect her daughter.
As the action begins, we find Dahlia doing her best to start a new life. She has recently separated from her husband and taken on a new job. After much looking around, she has also rented a new apartment. But her new home is far from perfect. The apartment is located in an ugly, run down building. The lift doesn’t always work and the best view from the window is of the apartments directly opposite. Worst of all, there is a leak in the roof just above her bed. It is dilapidated and cramped but is her price range.
Dahlia is determined to put her relationship with her estranged husband behind her and devote herself to raising her daughter, Ceci. Having moved into the new home, she is then drawn into a bitter custody battle but that soon becomes the least of her problems.
Worryingly for Dahlia and her daughter, their new apartment soon starts to take on a life of its own. Mysterious noises and voices, regular leaks of dark dirty water from her roof and strange happenings cause Dahlia's imagination to run wild. Her experiences send her on a puzzling, scary and mystifying pursuit to find out who is behind the strange happenings.
Dark Water starts off well and progresses at a good pace but soon gets tired, repetitive and predictable. The strange, mysterious and surreal happenings come thick and fast but there's just too many of them. Just when you think that an explanation is around the corner (which could take the story in a totally different direction) there's another drip of dirty water, from the tap or the roof or the washing machine.
It's like watching your favourite soap opera and seeing a storyline run for weeks on end when you just want a conclusion, or a change of environment at least. There's nothing new in 'Dark Water'. We've seen it all before in better, slicker, more enjoyable films.
Apart from the excellent Connelly, there are good performances from the supporting cast, which includes Ariel Gade, Tim Roth, Dougray Scott and character actor John C Riley. Pete Postlethwaite is engaging and highly entertaining as the building super/handyman while the ever watchable Camryn Manheim (from TV's 'The Practice') plays Ceci's school teacher.
Adapted from a novel by Koji Suzuki, 'Dark Water' is well worth a look. But be warned, some of the scenes are pretty gruesome and often disturbing.
It's a good film, but not a great film.
Mark O'Neill Cummins