She's water, he's fire, and if you expect to get more plot than this, forget it. This is very much a character and atmosphere piece, and the story that comes
together around Hidenori Sugimori's astounding visuals is powerful and well
told, without the typical (and western) dramatic elements that drive a narrative forward. The climatic scenes here are about texture, not tension.
I loved this film and felt it to be in the same strong but under-appreciated
showings of, say, Terrence Malick and David Gordon Green--filmmakers that
know something about light and sound and the importance of these to good
cinematic story telling. We should expect more from visual narrative, and Mizu No Onna doesn't disappoint; still, there's something missing here that takes
away from the elegance that might have been more fully achieved. I think it's in the attempt to find a beginning, middle and end to a story which should have
built quietly to an emotional intensity, then broke off, as happens in life.
Closure is a western psychological requirement (why denouement?); life is seldom so
neat. In trying to give too much mythic and story significance to its characters, the film undoes its own beautifully told story. The symbols of the Elements (fire, water) are everywhere, and they're not always given to us poetically. We're hit over the head with them, and more: we're given a village idiot, who will, in the best narrative tradition, foretell or undo; a strange demi-god. There's no need for any of this, especially since the visuals and sound do such a good job at giving over the story. Still, this is a powerful and successful effort.
Special mention goes to Yoko Kanno whose classically-drawn score completes
the powerful sight and sound experience.
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