I had heard good things about this film, so I added it to my Netflix queue. I watched it last night and was very impressed. Now I have a new director to watch!
When I read the summary, I thought there was a typo, because surely it wasn’t about an 8-year-old widow. But no! The main character in Water is an 8-year-old girl whose parents send her to an ashram after her much-older husband dies. It has to do with the religious belief that upon marriage, the female becomes half of the male, so when he dies, half of her then dies. The film takes place in the 1930’s, but apparently there are still women living ascetic lives after their husbands die. I’m pretty sure the whole child-bride thing is frowned upon, though.
There was a lot of controversy in India over this film in the ultra-religious communities. I can’t really see why. Faith and religion are integral to this film. Of course, there is a feminist aspect to it also.
The plot doesn’t focus only on the little girl; there are about four other widows that we focus on. None of them are very pleased with their situation, but only one attempts to find her way out. It’s not a happy movie; when things were looking great with 30 minutes left in the film, I just knew something bad would happen. And I’m glad it did. Making this a happy little film would take something away from its message of hope through adversity.
The film is so gorgeously shot. The colors of leaves and blue hallways really stand out among the blankness of the widows’ garb.
There is so much more that goes on in this film that I loved: the acting, the music by Mychael Danna (one of my favorite current composers), the history, the ideas behind the film . . . the list goes on.
The only other film I’d seen by Deepa Mehta was Bollywood/Hollywood, which went beyond camp. I’m glad to have this film to contrast it with.