Open Water

Open Water (2004)

Open Water (2004)

Very loosely based on a true story, this is the tale of a couple who find themselves stranded at sea when their charter boat mistakenly leaves them behind.  The bulk of the film plays out with the two of them alone and afraid, struggling to keep their wits and their lives as the elements (and a few sharks) creep in on them.

The story is chilling, but the narrative is a bit weak as it’s stretched into a full-length film.  The minimalist approach to the film gives it a raw and visceral feel, but it also makes it drag at times.  Two people stranded in the middle of the ocean is a terrifying concept – but it doesn’t make for a compelling hour of film.  The acting keeps the film moving as well as can be hoped, though, as the two go through the various psychological stages of denial, anger, blaming and acceptance.  The ending is pretty nihilistic and could have used a little more exposition – unless you’ve really managed to put yourself in their place, it’s hard to understand and harder to accept.

At 81 minutes, the film is short, but still manages to seem too long.  This would make a compelling tv episode or anthology piece, but there just isn’t enough material here to make a film with.  The film does get some definite kudos, though, for not trying to spice things up by descending in to a low-brow shark movie or something like that.  This isn’t horror or action or even, really, suspense – this is a character drama that you’ll either buy into, switching places with the doomed couple and experiencing the mounting dread with them, or try to view from afar and probably be bored.  If you choose the latter, however, you’re missing the point.
Stars: 3/5

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