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Water

Water

Rated:PG-13
Studio:Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director:Deepa Mehta
Cast:Seema Biswas, John Abraham (II), John Abraham, Lisa Ray, Rishma Malik
Genre:Drama, Foreign
Our Rating:

The concluding installment of crusading filmmaker Deepa Mehta's “elements” trilogy (and the highlight of the recent South Asian Film Festival), Water explores the plight of Indian widows. In the 1930s the film chronicles (and, to a lesser extent, today), women who are unlucky enough to lose their husbands are sent to live in poverty in ashrams. Young and old alike are forced to shave their heads, endure wholesale shunning and even prevent their shadows from falling on religious icons at wedding rehearsals. Only one young woman, Kalyani (Lisa Ray), is allowed to keep her hair — so she can work as a prostitute to keep the ashram afloat. Kalyani’s clandestine romance with a handsome law student (John Abraham) is the harbinger of changes to come, and it’s here that Mehta gets into trouble, tying in her reformist impulses too tidily with concurrent cultural upheavals like India's looming independence and Gandhi’s revolutionary cross-country tour. Still, all the pat plotting and discourse in the world can’t extinguish the fire of a film this well intended, sensitively acted and beautifully filmed. (PG-13; opens Friday, July 7, at Enzian Theater, 407-629-0054)

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