13 August 2004

Open Water (Spoiler)

Some additional thoughts on Open Water. Do not read if you haven't seen the movie. I really, really mean it.

Although I could only give 3/5, the death scenes in Open Water were some of the most effective and affecting that I've seen in film. The chaotic prelude to the tragedy, the evening storm punctuated by dark and then lit with sharks circling the couple, was disorienting and terrifying. At that point, you knew anything could happen. You still had some weird hope, but that hope included that maybe they'd die peacefully. Maybe.

Her resign the following day was equally terrifying. With it, she, the actress, exuded the artistic strength she didn't have or didn't have opportunity to express early in the movie. Poetic deaths don't exit (?) in movies, so I immediately fell back on Siegfried's death in Wagner's opera Gotterdammerung. I'm not a huge opera fan, but the scene from the production that I first saw on PBS was goose-pimply-glassy-eyed moving. Siegfried is betrayed and sings of his realization of the betrayal and his memories of life. And he drops in a meadow just as he could be the world's hero.

Susan in Open Water has that monumental a final scene. We aren't sure that Daniel is dead until she lets go. We aren't sure what's going to happen to her as the sharks continue to circle until she takes her own life and resolves the terror that we didn't want to see. Her face throughout all of that--although you could never see much more--was so resolved against her fate that it should be one of those eternal cinema images.

Her resolve in demeanor brings you back to when she became the strong one after shark bit Daniel the previous day. The change was almost too dramatic, but it was well placed and effective. I fell in love with her as the selfishness of their mutual trauma dropped away and she realized that she was in the position where she had to be strong. She tried to calm him after the attack, supported him throughout the night, and kissed him--the. best. kiss. in. cinema. history.--as she released his dead body to the water the next day. She became the strong person and stayed that person until she sternly sunk herself into the water.

The last third of the movie gets a solid 5/5.

[ posted by sstrader on 13 August 2004 at 9:23:54 PM in Cinema ]