Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Waterdance

The Waterdance   USA   1992   ***

This is an honest look at the realities of spinal cord injury. Writer and co-director Neal Jimenez himself has an SCI, and this movie is clearly based on his real life experiences. Joel (Eric Stoltz) breaks his neck while hiking, and the movie covers the time he spends in rehab. The plot is pretty predictable: he faces the difficulties of adjusting to SCI, has problems with his girlfriend Anna (Helen Hunt), we see a little bit about his roommates and their similar struggles. The characters are two dimensional and not terribly engaging. But this movie is highly recommended for those of you who have never met a real person with SCI, if only to get a small dose of reality. However, Devo Girl has one major problem with this film, and that is the weird framing device. When Joel enters the rehab center, and again when he leaves, we see a much more severely disabled boy in an electric wheelchair silently staring at him. What is the point of that? To make a distinction between ordinary people who just happen to be injured and the “real” crips, i.e., the "freaks" born disabled? Or is he silently chanting “One of us, one of us” ? Either way we find it disturbing, and totally unnecessary.

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