Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


OPEN WATER (2005). Writer/Director: Chris Kentis.

A young couple go out with a charter to go scuba diving, but are accidentally left behind when the supervisor doesn't do an accurate head count. Left alone in the middle of nowhere, they must deal with their growing apprehension, feelings of guilt and recrimination, and sharks that keep hovering around and threatening to come too close. Hours go by as they squabble, cry, and panic as the sharks begin to nibble... [Oddly, every time they see a boat in the distance they wave their arms but never cry out despite the fact that sound carries over the water.] It's all well and good to support independent filmmaking, but the overpraising of this utterly mediocre movie by supposedly major critics will have any objective critic scratching his head in confusion. The movie begins like a bad travelogue, and takes quite awhile to become mildly interesting. Supposedly based on a true story, it's certainly a tragic situation, but it's hard to care for two people who seem likable and pleasant but are strictly one-dimensional. [The filmmakers choose not to tell us the legal and other repercussions of this incident.] This might have made an acceptable telefilm, but it is hardly well-written or dramatic enough to cut it as a feature. It doesn't help that the actress (Blanchard Ryan) playing the distaff half of the couple is amateurish; Daniel Travis is better as her boyfriend. There is some nice underwater photography, and the picture is nice to look at, but this is certainly not another Jaws, and it isn't well-made or intense enough to be a strong drama, either. [This is so slipshod and low-key that I had to reverse the DVD just to figure out if a character actually died or not; this important moment is just frittered away.] When the critics praise movies like this and Kill Bill you have to wonder if critical standards of movie reviewing have sunk to a new all-time low. Because the film will make money due to the critic's harping, writer-director Kentis will be seen in Hollywood as some kind of wunderkind, get major contracts, and probably make a whole slew of bad pictures over the next few years. [In my opinion, Kentis should stick to travelogues.]

Verdict: And we wonder why so many movies are lousy these days! *1/2.

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