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Movie Review: Water

Alternate Title: Widow's Walk

Story: Suffer the little children, widows, orphans or anyone else in 1938 India where another mouth to feed was seen as a burden. It was the point in time when Colonial England was about to lose its hold on India and Gandhi was embarking on his civil disobedience revolution. The cruel traditions and caste rituals of India was about to be torn asunder. Or was it?

This wonderful, passionate, emotional film is the third in director Deepa Mehta's trilogy, Fire (1998) and Earth (1999) being the first two. The behind the scenes production of this film is as dramatic as what occurs in the final product. When, in 2000, director Mehta began pre-production in Benares (Varanese) the crew was threatened and the sets burned by fundamental Hindus who believed she was desecrating the sacred texts as they related to the treatment of women. Mehta continued her life's passion, restarted production in Sri Lanka and finished this masterpiece five years later.

The story is the heartbreaking tale of how Colonial India treated its widows - some as young as seven years old. Hindi texts prescribe that when a husband dies the widow has three choices: she can throw herself on the funeral pyre, marry his brother, or live in poverty in a group home with other widows. One of this films' widows is eight years old and never met her husband. The lives of these women is handled sensitively using an equal mix of politics, history, religion and many philosophical questions.

This film will leave you thinking and emoting long after you leave the theater. The final text tells us that in today's India there are 34 million widows living in similar conditions to what we have just seen.

Acting: The five year delay in filming caused director Mehta to recast her film. I cannot imagine better choices. The little girl, played by Sarala, is Sri Lankan and acted her part phonetically, not speaking the director's language. She was brilliant. Shout outs to all the others, especially Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen), Lisa Roy and John Abraham.

Predilection: I love all things Indian.

Critters: A black puppy and a parrot.

Food: A sweet, called ladoo and lots of rice.

Soundtrack: A delightful Indian soundtrack.

Theater Audience: A handful of folk.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: The caste system makes me crazy.

Drift Factor: Not a drift moment for me.

Predictability Level: I did not know what was going to happen.

Tissue Usage: My movie buddy used three tissues and I used only one.

Oscar Worthy: Yes.

Big Screen or Rental: If this film pays in your neighborhood I highly recommend the big screen. If renting, try the other two parts of her trilogy.

Length: Slightly shy of two hours.