Once again, we owe a debt of gratitude (and the monthly service fee) to NetFlix for delivering the gift of "Water" right to our door. It's a beautiful film, cinematically, and it will touch your heart. Even though you'll need a tissue or several at the end, we recommend it wholeheartedly.
An Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film, "Water" deals with the life of forced self-denial that awaits Indian widows, from the perspective of Shuiya, widowed at 8 years old and doomed to spend the remainder of her days in a "widow house." There, she's befriended by the elderly women and the young, beautiful widow Kalyani who has been turned into a prostitute by the mean, nasty, evil, greedy Didi Madhu who runs the ashram/brothel.
The film winds the story of the widows around the story of colonial India in 1938, as Mohandas Gandhi is opening the eyes of the world to the dream of freedom for India, the widows are opening their eyes to the dream of freedom for themselves. These dreams come together at the point in the film where a holy man tells one of the widows that the law would allow women to remarry and leave the life of self-denial and shame, but "we don't pay attention to the laws that don't suit us."
As always, when we watch films that illuminate the dark, hidden places in cultures far from ours, the most shocking moment is found at the end of the film, when we learn how little has changed between the promise of freedom in 1938 and the reality of life for the Indian widows today.
Rent this film. You'll be happy ... and sad ... and happy again ... and enlightened.