The Weight of Water (film)

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The Weight of Water
Weight of Water, The- 2000.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKathryn Bigelow
Produced byA. Kitman Ho
Sigurjón Sighvatsson
Janet Yang
Screenplay byAlice Arlen
Christopher Kyle
Based onThe Weight of Water
by Anita Shreve
StarringElizabeth Hurley
Catherine McCormack
Sean Penn
Sarah Polley
Music byDavid Hirschfelder
CinematographyAdrian Biddle
Distributed byLions Gate Films
Release date
  • September 9, 2000 (2000-09-09) (TIFF)
  • July 31, 2002 (2002-07-31) (France)
  • November 1, 2002 (2002-11-01) (US)
Running time
113 minutes
United States
Budget$16 million
Box office$321,279[1]

The Weight of Water is a 2000 French-American mystery thriller film based on Anita Shreve's 1997 novel The Weight of Water. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the film stars Elizabeth Hurley, Catherine McCormack, Sean Penn, and Sarah Polley. The film was shot in Nova Scotia.[2] Although it premiered at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival, it was not released in the United States until November 1, 2002.


Newspaper photographer Jean Janes travels to the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast with her husband Thomas, an award-winning poet, his brother Rich, and Rich's girlfriend Adaline. She is researching the murders of two immigrant women in the same area in 1873, Karen Christensen and Anethe Christensen. In a twist of fate, Jean discovers archived papers that appear to give an account of the murders. According to the papers, a third woman, a Norwegian immigrant named Maren Hontvedt, survived the attack, which was allegedly done by Louis Wagner, who had once tried to seduce her.

The plot unfolds the narrative of the papers and Hontvedt's testimony against Wagner that gets him hanged, even though she was the murderer, as Jean surmises. Jean privately struggles with jealousy as Adaline openly flirts with Thomas, who openly appreciates Adaline's topless beauty, along with her interest in his work. The movie ends with Hontvedt trying to confess before he is hanged, in vain, as the modern-day characters get caught in a severe storm, where reality and fantasy collide.



The film received mixed reviews, and currently holds a rating of 34% at Rotten Tomatoes website; the critical summary reads, "The story is too muddled to build any interest".[3] Critics felt that Bigelow had not achieved as much weight with the fictional story of the present against her portrayal of the events of the past. Stephen Holden of The New York Times said, "There is so much to admire in The Weight of Water, Kathryn Bigelow's churning screen adaptation of a novel by Anita Shreve, that when the movie finally collapses on itself late in the game, it leaves you in the frustrating position of having to pick up its scattered pieces and assemble them as best you can."[4] Holden felt the two stories "never mesh".[4]



  1. ^ "The Weight of Water (2000) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. November 22, 2002. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The Weight of Water". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b STEPHEN HOLDEN, "FILM REVIEW; Women at the Edge, a Century Apart", New York Times, 1 November 2002, accessed 20 August 2012

External links[edit]