Depth takes a holiday
Two vacationers try to survive being left out in the heartless ocean in "Open Water," which could have been made much better but will still stay strongly with you.
By JOSHUA TANZER
The good thing about seeing "Open Water" in a theater is that you get the effect of being stuck out in the vast, empty, endlessly sloshing ocean. The good thing about waiting for the video is that you can take all the bathroom breaks you need.
It would be hard to do a much worse job of setting up this "based on true
events" story. "Open Water" starts with vacation-video-quality footage of
Daniel (Daniel Travis) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan) getting in the car to
leave for the tropics. Over the next 20 minutes, we'll do a lot of
irrelevant preparation for what we know is the main event. Some vacuous
beautiful-people pillow talk passes for character development. If this were the point of
the movie, it would be one of the most tedious stories ever committed to
|Written and directed by: Chris Kentis.|
Cinematography: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau.
Edited by: Chris Kentis.
Related links: Official site
But this introduction is merely a way to get to the "Oh my god we're gonna die" portion of the film, which grows steadily more compelling as the characters' situation grows more desperate. Out on an ordinary deep-sea diving excursion, due to an accidental miscalculation on the part of the tour operators, Daniel and Susan get left out in mid-ocean with no signs of the boat they rode out on. From here on, it's a question of survival against the cold, drowning, thirst, starvation, sunburn, psychological breakdown and, oh yes, seagoing carnivores with sharp teeth and dorsal fins.
It's not like the dialogue improves a great deal at this point, but there's no ignoring the elemental terror of this ordeal. You've got to feel some kind of human connection to this nightmare situation which, as Daniel mentions from his reading of diving magazines and watching of certain outdoor-sports television networks (yes, there's even product placement miles away from dry land) is "a lot more common than you think." The last 20 minutes or so, after night falls, are genuinely harrowing.
There are a hundred ways "Open Water" could have been a better movie, but ultimately you're not likely to forget it. Just when you think it's safe to go back into the water, you will certainly find this story stuck in the back of your mind.
|AUGUST 6, 2004|
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Reader comments on Open Water:
Shat from Michael Jackass, Jan 14, 2005
Grim from tor johnson, May 3, 2005
sharks from paige, Jan 3, 2006
open water from life and what matters, Feb 9, 2006
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