Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    An exquisite film about the institutionalized oppression of an entire class of women and the way patriarchal imperatives inform religious belief.
  2. Exquisite storytelling, acting and visuals.
  3. Profound, passionate and overflowing with incomparable beauty, Water, like the prior two films in director Deepa Mehta's "Elements" trilogy, celebrates the lives of women who resist marginalization by Indian society.
  4. 75
    The best elements of Water involve the young girl and the experiences seen through her eyes. I would have been content if the entire film had been her story.
  5. As a sign of how stubborn some irrational religious traditions can be, Hindu protesters forced Mehta to close down her Indian location and finish the film in neighboring Sri Lanka.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A haunting and disturbing film, set in 1938, about "widow houses." Though occasionally overwrought, it emerges as life-affirming.
  7. Reviewed by: Louise Kennedy
    Succeeds in its central goal: to turn a forgotten class of women into real, memorable human beings who deserve a different life.
  8. 75
    The stunning Lisa Ray, a Bollywood exile, makes one of the most beautiful widows ever to grace the screen. Vidula Javalgekar gives a memorable turn as the infirm "Auntie." But the real find is Sarala, a Sri Lankan girl who memorized dialogue in a language she does not understand and delivers it with conviction.
  9. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Gandhi did save India from the British, but he didn't save India from the Indians, and the horrific subjugation of widows continues there even today. It was only 10 years ago that Mehta encountered the Hindu widow who inspired her film.
  10. A film with the epic scale and fearless common-sense vision of Water is a revelation.
  11. 67
    It's infuriating in more ways than one. Yet it's also somehow touching in its melange of melodrama and modernism.
  12. The movie takes the form of a lackluster women's-prison picture.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Gallo
    This work of gorgeous fury, about the virtual imprisonment of millions of Hindu widows in the years before independence, transforms Mehta's feminist rage into an eloquent testament to the hunger for freedom.
  14. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    Deftly balancing epic sociopolitical scope with intimate human emotions, all polished to a high technical gloss, Deepa Mehta's Water is a profoundly moving drama.
  15. Water, set in 1930s India, is something pretty rare in the world of movies: an artistic muckraker. It is superb and strange at once, a discreet and self-disciplined attack dog of a movie.
  16. As beautiful as it is harrowing.
  17. A potent feminist protest--all the more so because some of the laws depicted are still in force today.
  18. 58
    Water is gorgeously composed and beautifully shot, with a dogged emphasis on water imagery and symbolism, and a luscious sense for color. It's often profoundly beautiful. But its distanced, calculated attempts to draw sympathy, from its wide-eyed child protagonist to its sad-eyed, personality-free lovers to its fairy-tale ending, all blunt the meaning behind that beauty.
  19. The writer-director doesn't raise her voice, even as she firmly condemns the injustice. Water seduces us with its beauty and sorrow.
  20. 75
    Lurking just beneath Water's serene, storybook surface is an unmissable, defiant passion.
  21. Mehta has created the perfect guide to this strange female world.
  22. In an elemental way, though, the film always works. The acting can be basic, a cross between Bollywood directness and Western nuance, but it has weight.
  23. Mehta and her cameraman Giles Nuttgens capture the area's rich interplay of light and color, land and water, and riches and poverty.
  24. 80
    Hitches some of the most irresistible conventions of Hindi movie melodrama to an earnest agenda of social protest.
  25. A powerful drama, albeit a flawed one with a clumsy, didactic script.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 26 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 9
  2. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. BarbaraK.
    Jul 5, 2006
    Tragedy as a perfume commercial.
  2. RiK.
    Aug 4, 2006
    Attempts at creating an emotionally manipulative film were transparent. With a story that should have put a knot in my throat, I was left Attempts at creating an emotionally manipulative film were transparent. With a story that should have put a knot in my throat, I was left with only a sense of disgust with how the film was (unfittingly) made to look "beautiful". It's a very sad state of affairs when a formulaic quasi art film like this is the kind that gets P&A dollars to somehow break through, while there are so many genius American indies that we never get to see on the big screen, not to mention all the great foreign films that don't have to resort to cheesy love stories and "stylish" trick cinematography. It's even sadder that this film has received such a high meta score - is what is screened in American theaters these days so bad that "Water" is really so refreshing??? I believe this film is a crime to cinema. A ridiculous waste of gobs of money (production and marketing) only to ruin a truly interesting subject matter & potentially amazing story. Full Review »
  3. PrudenceK.
    Jul 29, 2006
    Easily the funniest and saddest films of the year! I don't know. Sometimes I didn't know what was going on, I am fluent in Hindi Easily the funniest and saddest films of the year! I don't know. Sometimes I didn't know what was going on, I am fluent in Hindi though... so that was cool! I thought it was good when they cut her hair, it was so sad! I cried at that part. Oh! And I loved when they played with the dog, that was so cute! But it was mean when they cut her hair. But that lady was so mean! She was big! And she was obsessed with that bird! It was so weird! Cool film! Full Review »