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Klaus Maria Brandauer,
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Ed Begley Jr.,
A film about struggling to deal with paralysis. Author Joel Garcia breaks his neck while hiking, and finds himself in a rehabilitation centre with Raymond, an exaggerating ladies' man, and Bloss, a racist biker. Considerable tension builds as each character tries to deal with his new found handicap and the problems that go with it, especially Joel, whose lover Anna is having as difficult a time as he is. As Raymond reveals a dream about dancing on the surface of a lake to stay afloat, it becomes apparent that each of them must find his own Waterdance to survive his tragedy. Written by
Michael Silva <email@example.com>
As a disabled person myself, I have seen firsthand the drama told in this movie. A rehab hospital is its own private world, a world where people are transformed and adapt to a new reality. The Waterdance comes as close as possible to capturing that world and relating it in terms that the general public can understand.
The central character is an author who was paralyzed in an auto accident. Along the way, we meet the typically diverse set of characters seen in such wards who have nothing in common except similar disabilities. The similarities are not enough, and an uneasy dynamic between them develops. There is the once dapper ladies' man who is thrown from the hospital into a nursing home, where he attempts suicide. There is the man who is lucky enough to have a supportive family. There is the once tough guy who wants to get even with a suit using a lawyer gotten off a TV ad. A social order develops with its own shifting loyalties and rules.
Through it all is Joel Garcia, going through his own changes and his own Hell. He seems to adapt easily, but he falls into traps along the way. The free drugs dull his senses. He doesn't know how he will cope with his life. Most of all, he and his lover (Helen Hunt), who is married to another man, must decide whether they will stay together as they had planned.
The Waterdance is one of a handful of films that deals honestly and wisely with the issues of disability. Like them (Coming Home, The Best Years of Their Lives), it may appear depressing at first, but it also highlights how strong people can be when faced with life's greatest challenge.
I just can't understand why he gave up Helen Hunt! I wouldn't have.
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